Marek Hamsik is “proud” of Slovakia after his man of the match performance inspired the nation to a first European Championship victory.
The Napoli attacking midfielder scored a sumptuous goal after he set up Vladimir Weiss for the opener in a 2-1 victory over Russia at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, and admitted afterwards Slovakia have qualification firmly in their sights.
“Of course we’re very happy for this first big win for Slovakia, we’re very proud. Maybe now we’ve opened the gates to the last 16,” said Hamsik.
“I think I did well, I’m very proud to have scored such a goal. I collected Vladimir Weiss’ corner and it was brilliant.”
The win was much needed for Slovakia after they suffered an opening 2-1 defeat to Wales on Saturday, and Hamsik insists England, who they play on Monday, will be a “tougher” proposition than their first two Group B fixtures.
“We’ll see about England’s match with Wales but we don’t have to be too interested in their results,” he added.
“We have four or five days to prepare for that game against the big favourites in the group. I’m sure it will be tougher than these matches.”
The 28-year-old star relished the space which Russia, who scored a late consolation goal through midfielder Denis Glushakov, left during the game and he was a threat throughout.
“The Russians were really strong on the ball, had more possession and were very good at counter-attacks, but also leaving maybe some more space in defence,” he said.
“In the second half, we were sitting deep all the time but we held on to the result and we’re very happy.”
Following his impressive Euro 2016 display, Hamsik has set his sights on tasting further success in his career.
“I’m sure I can achieve more in my career but we’ll see where my steps take me,” he said.
“Hopefully it will be in Napoli. But sure, there’s room for improvement.”