Former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne has his fingers crossed for a Eurovision Song Contest win, backing his Irish entry Sunlight as the “perfect track”.
Byrne will be singing for his place in the final on Thursday night and, despite having performed around the world, the “really patriotic” star admitted to a “few nerves” before the big performance.
The competition is even more personal for the 37-year-old as Sunlight is the first track from his new solo album of the same name.
He said: “My attitude is that I’ll go out there and give it my very best shot. If I do that then I know I’ve done my family and country proud.
“The level of support I’ve received from home has been incredible. I can’t wait to get out on stage tonight and just go for it!”
This is the first year that Ireland’s entry has been chosen without a public vote and there will be added pressure on Byrne with the eyes of America watching, as the show is broadcast across the pond for the first time too.
Byrne said he had “been thinking for a while” about moving between presenting the results for RTE and standing on the stage himself and the timing this year seemed like serendipity.
“I presented the results for the last few years on RTE and I’ve seen the disappointment when the Irish entry doesn’t get through to the final,” he said.
“I was working on my first solo album and I thought Sunlight could be the perfect track for Eurovision.”
He “absolutely” believes that Eurovision produces credible pop songs and has already called on Ireland’s up-and-coming acts to think about entering next year.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to represent my country in front of a global audience. I would recommend it to any music act to take on the challenge next year – there is no bigger platform. I’m so proud that I have the opportunity to fly the flag for Ireland at Eurovision 2016.”
Ireland is the most successful Eurovision country, with seven wins in total, but it has been 10 years since they last held the crown.
Byrne will be competing in The Eurovision Song Contest 2016: Semi-Final, which airs on BBC Four at 8pm.