Belfast Telegraph

Jonny Evans is determined to continue breaking new ground in France

By Steven Beacom in LYON

Jonny Evans has told his Northern Ireland team-mates to carry on making history at the Euro 2016 finals.

The West Bromwich Albion defender has been one of Northern Ireland's best players in the tournament and having helped his country qualify for the knockout stages he wants to cement the legacy being created here by making it to the last eight.

Wales have the same plan.

While the Euro 2016 finals represents a first major tournament for Northern Ireland since 1986, this is a first competition for tomorrow's opponents Wales in 58 years.

Remarkably, after that long exile for both nations, one of them will be in the quarter-finals come tomorrow evening in Paris.

The chance to achieve such an historic landmark is one that Evans has revealed is a driving force heading into the clash at the Parc des Princes.

"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 yesterday 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 the fans have done for us since they've been here," Evans said.

"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 for two weeks, some of them. You almost think, how are they still doing this?

"Sometimes, when you're in a big game like that (the 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 cheers were aimed in the direction of the inspired Michael McGovern, the goalkeeper who denied the Germans time after time.

The rest of Europe may not have been aware of the 31-year-old prior to this tournament, but Evans remembers a former Under-21 colleague who showed promising signs from an early age.

"The 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 is 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."

Belfast Telegraph