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Michael O'Neill: Northern Ireland are out to surpass the greats of 58 and the 80s

By Steven Beacom

Published 30/05/2016

George Best Belfast City Airport provide a water cannon spray as members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael O'Neill as they leave Northern Ireland to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
George Best Belfast City Airport provide a water cannon spray as members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael O'Neill as they leave Northern Ireland to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's captain Steven Davis pictured with airline captain Vladimir Korosec as they leave from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael OÕNeill and Captain Steve Davis as they leave Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria before the 2016 Euros. Picture By: Arthur Allison. Pacemaker Press Belfast: Monday 30th May 2016:
Northern Ireland players pictured as they leave from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they leave from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty pictured as they leave from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair pictured as they leave from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Roy Carroll pictured as they leave from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes pictured as they leave from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael OÕNeill and Captain Steve Davis as they leave Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Jamie Ward with members of the Northern Ireland football squad as they leave Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael OÕNeill and Captain Steve Davis as they leave Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael OÕNeill and Captain Steve Davis as they leave Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Manager Michael O'Neill leaves Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Members of the Northern Ireland football squad leave Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael OÕNeill and Captain Steve Davis as they leave Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Manager Michael OÕNeill leaves Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael O'Neill as they leave Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael OÕNeill and Captain Steve Davis as they leave Northern Ireland from George Best Belfast City Airport to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael O'Neill as they leave the Culloden Hotel to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael O'Neill as they leave the Culloden Hotel to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Fans watch manager Michael O'Neill making the squad announcement. Photo: Kelvin Boyes
IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Manager Michael O'Neil making the squad announcement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil is pictured making the squad announcement.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil is pictured making the squad announcement.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Pictured is Colin Murray. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Pictured are Northern Ireland legends Peter McParland, Pat Genninings and Billy Hamilton. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Pictured is Colin Murray. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil is pictured making the squad announcement.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Fans watch Manager Michael OÕNeil making the squad announcement.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Fans watch Manager Michael OÕNeil making the squad announcement.
IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. Manager Michael O'Neill is pictured making the squad announcement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil is pictured with his family before making the squad announcement.
Northern Ireland football legends Peter McParland, Pat Jennings and Billy Hamilton at the squad announcement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Northern Ireland fans display a banner before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. Pic Niall Carson
Will Grigg. Pic kevin Scott
Matthew,Chris,Robyn and Richard Knox from Lisburn watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland President Jim Shaw. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates with team-mate Kyle Lafferty (centre) after scoring his side's second goal during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (left) and Belarus' Nikolai Yanush battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (11) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring his side's second goal during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (R) of Northern Ireland scores during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (R) of Northern Ireland scores during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Belarus' Igor Shitov (left) and Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's fans celebrate the second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty rues a missed chance during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (R) celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Belarus' Nikita Korzun battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Kyle Lafferty of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (L) of Northern Ireland and Mikita Korzun (R) of Belarus during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Paddy McNair and Belarus' Siarhei Krivets in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Amy and Callum Lister from Belfast in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Score 1-0 vs Belarus in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Score 1-0 vs Belarus in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll celebrating in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll celebrating in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands XXX and Belarus' YYY in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands XXX and Belarus' YYY in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland President Jim Shaw. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Luke McCullough and Belarus' Siarhei Kisliak in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Belarus fan during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Alyaksandr Martynovich (Captain) during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Egor Filipenko during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Egor Filipenko during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty scores a goal past Belarus goal keeper Andrei Harbunov during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Stuart Dallas and Belarus Mikhail Hardzeichuk during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Stuart Dallas and Belarus Ihar Shitau during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Steven Davis and Belarus Nikita Korzun during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Chris Baird and Belarus Maksim Valadzko during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty challenged by Belarus Ihar Shitau and Mikhail Hardzeichuk during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legends Pat Jennings and Sammy McIlroy. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legend Pat Jennings. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legends Pat Jennings and Sammy McIlroy. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Amy and Callum Lister from Belfast in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Andy and Micky Longstaff from Crumlin in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Flag bearers Sara Lockhead, Benjamin Jackson and Jody Burns. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Heather and Keith Cassell with Kate Turner in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Simon and Martin Thompson with Jeff Patterson in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Flag bearers Jody Burns, Alex Corr, Sara Lockhead and Benjamin Jackson Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Graeme Beggs and family in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands David and Adam Orr in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye George Emerson with his son Cameron aged 14 from Bangor watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Jennifer Simpson and Kathleen Graham from Newtownabbey watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Darren Hamill and son Scott, aged 10, from Lisburn watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: A Northern Ireland fan poses with a green beret before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair high-fives some fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair high-fives some fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Belarus players take a stroll on the pitch before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland players pictured before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (L) and Stuart Dallas (R) pose with fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Belarus players take a stroll on the pitch before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland players pictured before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

It was Northern Ireland's World Cup hero of 1958, Peter McParland, who said it first.

At the official unveiling of Michael O'Neill's 23-man squad for the 2016 European Championships on Saturday at the Titanic building in Belfast, which was superbly put together by the Irish FA, in front of hundreds of fans McParland stated his hope that the current crop of players could do even better than the legends of 58 years ago.

 

Back then McParland and co won through to the knockout stages of the World Cup in Sweden.

Billy Bingham's men also got through their first group in the 1982 World Cup, while the 1986 side came home after the opening phase of the competition.

The aim for O'Neill is to repeat the feats of the 1958 and 1982 Northern Ireland teams and perhaps improve on them.

Already O'Neill and his players have achieved what nobody else in this country has done by qualifying for the Euro finals.

"People are still talking about the 1958 team and the sides from 1982 and 1986," said O'Neill.

"When you look back at what those teams achieved it does hit home a little more what we have done. After the tournament there may be more of that.

Northern Ireland players celebrate the final Windsor park home game before the Euro finals. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland players celebrate the final Windsor park home game before the Euro finals. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Will Grigg. Pic kevin Scott
Northern Ireland players celebrate.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis celebrates with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland Goal Scorers , Conor Washington, Will Grigg and Kyle Lafferty after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis celebrates with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis celebrates with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Northern Ireland win the match 3-0 and are givien a send of as they head to France for the Euro's. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Northern Ireland players during a celebration send-off before the team leaves for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Kyle Lafferty gets his shorts pulled down during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Kyle Lafferty gets his shorts pulled down during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Kyle Lafferty gets his shorts pulled down during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland celebrate during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland celebrate during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Michael O'Neill during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Steven Davis during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland celebrate during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Steven Davis during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (R), Will Grigg (C) and Conor Washington (L) after the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland players during a celebration send-off before the team leaves for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland players during a celebration send-off before the team leaves for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans display a banner during a celebration send-off before the team leaves for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland players during a celebration send-off before the players leave for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Kyle Lafferty of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Will Grigg scores in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates with team-mate Kyle Lafferty (centre) after scoring his side's second goal during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (left) and Belarus' Nikolai Yanush battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (11) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring his side's second goal during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (R) of Northern Ireland scores during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (R) of Northern Ireland scores during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Belarus' Igor Shitov (left) and Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's fans celebrate the second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty rues a missed chance during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (R) celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Belarus' Nikita Korzun battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (L) of Northern Ireland and Mikita Korzun (R) of Belarus during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty challenged by Belarus Ihar Shitau and Mikhail Hardzeichuk during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Chris Baird and Belarus Maksim Valadzko during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Steven Davis and Belarus Nikita Korzun during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Stuart Dallas and Belarus Ihar Shitau during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Stuart Dallas and Belarus Mikhail Hardzeichuk during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty scores a goal past Belarus goal keeper Andrei Harbunov during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Egor Filipenko during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Egor Filipenko during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Alyaksandr Martynovich (Captain) during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Belarus fan during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Luke McCullough and Belarus' Siarhei Kisliak in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands XXX and Belarus' YYY in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legends Pat Jennings and Sammy McIlroy. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legend Pat Jennings. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legends Pat Jennings and Sammy McIlroy. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland President Jim Shaw. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland President Jim Shaw. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands XXX and Belarus' YYY in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Paddy McNair and Belarus' Siarhei Krivets in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll celebrating in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll celebrating in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Score 1-0 vs Belarus in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Score 1-0 vs Belarus in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Kyle Lafferty and Stuart Dallas pose with fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Amy and Callum Lister from Belfast in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Amy and Callum Lister from Belfast in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Andy and Micky Longstaff from Crumlin in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Flag bearers Sara Lockhead, Benjamin Jackson and Jody Burns. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Heather and Keith Cassell with Kate Turner in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Simon and Martin Thompson with Jeff Patterson in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Flag bearers Jody Burns, Alex Corr, Sara Lockhead and Benjamin Jackson Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Graeme Beggs and family in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands David and Adam Orr in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye George Emerson with his son Cameron aged 14 from Bangor watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Jennifer Simpson and Kathleen Graham from Newtownabbey watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Darren Hamill and son Scott, aged 10, from Lisburn watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Matthew,Chris,Robyn and Richard Knox from Lisburn watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: A Northern Ireland fan poses with a green beret before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair high-fives some fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair high-fives some fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Belarus players take a stroll on the pitch before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland players pictured before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (L) and Stuart Dallas (R) pose with fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Belarus players take a stroll on the pitch before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland players pictured before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

"We are still in a mindset that it is ahead of us rather than behind us.

"As Peter said it would be great for the team to do better than what those teams have done. That is the target for me as a coach and the players."

While O'Neill is immensely proud of guiding the team to the finals in France, where they will meet Poland, Ukraine and World champions Germany in the group stages, one senses he almost feels as satisfied about efforts behind the scene to provide the Northern Ireland team with an identity.

He says: "When I took over, the team didn't really have a strong identity. We would go to the stadium at Windsor Park and there was nothing on the walls that made you feel like you were going to play for Northern Ireland.

"There were no images from the past or present and it was something we tried to address within the restrictions of the old stadium.

"You have seen the new stadium now and what they have done with it and there can be nothing better as a player to come in on the team coach and see positive images of yourself and your team-mates. The Association have done a great job and we have worked on videos and other things to give players a real sense of what it means to play for Northern Ireland.

"It would be wrong to say they had lost that but maybe they had lost the hope that they could actually inspire to achieve something. At times I said to the players that they weren't just here to pick up caps. We had to be about more than that."

O'Neill admitted that at the start of his reign in 2012 he did not envisage making it to the finals of a major tournament after just two qualifying campaigns.

In the build-up to France, today he and his team are bound for a training camp in Austria before a friendly in Slovakia on Saturday ahead of the June 12 Euro start against Poland in Nice.

The Northern Ireland boss is looking forward to privacy in Austria and the time to work on tactics, set-pieces and formations with his staff and players.

He added: "We know it won't be easy and we will have to play three games better than we have done before and stay injury free and when we change the team we will need players to play at a higher level internationally than they have done before but that is the challenge and I believe we can meet that challenge.

"Our fans will be huge when we get out to France. They have always given me and the players great support and it will be the same at the finals."

Belfast Telegraph

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