Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill acknowledged he is not completely sure how his side managed to qualify for the European Championship, but paid tribute to his squad for their achievement.
O’Neill’s men ran out 3-1 winners against Greece at Windsor Park on Thursday as Steven Davis scored twice either side of Josh Magennis’ first international goal.
Christos Aravidis’ late finish proved scant consolation for the visitors, with Northern Ireland able to focus on their first appearance at a European Championship and their first major tournament outing since 1986.
“The players were outstanding. Right through the team, magnificent,” O’Neill told Sky Sports.
“It’s a privilege to be here, I’m proud to stand here as their manager.
“How have we done it? I’m not really sure! We prepared the team well, players deserve the ultimate credit as they have to buy into it. We have confidence and belief which comes from winning games.
“This shows the potential of this team and of football in Northern Ireland.”
Magennis’ header shortly after the break came at an ideal time to give his side breathing space, with the Kilmarnock striker having previously plied his trade as a goalkeeper earlier in his career.
“I honestly can’t put it into words. It came off my shoulder but I don’t care,” he said.
“We have been working on set-pieces all week, they are a big part of how we play. We may not have the best quality but we never give up.
“Once you have that fight you can be a formidable team.”