Jonny Evans has urged Northern Ireland’s players to cement their legacy by continuing their Euro 2016 journey.
It was confirmed on Wednesday that Michael O’Neill’s side will be heading back to Paris this weekend for a clash with fellow home nation Wales in the round of 16.
We’re in such a position here to create history that can last a long time and we don’t want to let go of thatJonny Evans
Both countries made history in qualifying for the tournament to end long exiles from major tournaments - Wales’ 58-year stint exceeding the Northern Irish’s three-decade long spell - and one of the two countries is now guaranteed a last-eight berth.
The chance to achieve such a historic landmark is one that Evans has revealed is a driving force heading into the clash at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.
“We’re in such a position here to create history that can last a long time and we don’t want to let go of that,” Evans stated.
“We want to go as far as we can and not waste this opportunity.”
O’Neill’s squad returned to training on Thursday after being given the previous day off following a gruelling encounter with world champions Germany.
Their manager revealed they were “drained” following that 1-0 loss, though Evans is confident the sizeable Northern Irish following in France can pick them up again.
“We appreciate everything that they’ve done for us since they’ve been here,” Evans added of the support.
“We’re still getting videos and Snapchats, all the lads are seeing it all over the internet.
“They’re still singing their hearts out and they’ve been here two weeks, some of them. You almost think, how are they still doing this?
“Sometimes, when you’re in a big game like that (Germany game), you’re thinking the atmosphere won’t be as good as the first two games and then you see all the videos coming through and you hear them get to the stadium and that definitely gives you a lift.
“It helps you put it in when your legs are tired, you want to do it for them. That can definitely push you, you can see the reception we got.”
Plenty of the applause and cheers were aimed in the direction of the inspired Michael McGovern, the goalkeeper who denied the Germans on multiple occasions.
The rest of the continent may not have been aware of the 31-year-old Hamilton stopper prior to this tournament, but Evans remembers a former under-21 colleague who showed promising signs from an early age.
“First time I ever played with Michael was at under-21s, against Scotland in a friendly in Northern Ireland and he did the same that night,” Evans said.
“I remember thinking this guy’s unbelievable! He was a great shot-stopper, I think that’s one of his great qualities and his ball control, he’s very comfortable with the ball at his feet, he’s added that.
“He’s a very good goalkeeper and probably could be playing at a higher level.”