Striker Warren Feeney admitted remarks made by BBC pundits Martin Keown and Mark Lawrenson spurred Northern Ireland on to a memorable victory over Poland at the weekend.
The duo dismissed Northern Ireland’s chances of causing an upset at Windsor Park during Saturday’s Football Focus, comments that clearly riled the 28-year-old Dundee United forward and also the rest of the squad.
“We were sitting in our rooms at lunchtime listening to them having a pop at us,” explained Feeney.
“They said we had no quality in our side and that we would need another ‘England’ type performance to get anything out of the game.
“The players were sitting there laughing at them, okay, they are entitled to their opinions but it really did give us an extra edge, if any were needed, to go out and beat the Poles.
The former Leeds United trainee, given a rare start up front due to the absence of both Kyle Lafferty and Martin Paterson, capped one of his best performances in a green shirt by setting Northern Ireland on their way to another three points with the important opening goal.
“I love playing for my country and I love playing at Windsor. I just wanted the chance to show what I could do.
“It was brilliant to get the goal which I want to dedicate to my mother as she broke her leg on Friday and couldn’t make the match.
“From the back to the front the boys were magnificent, they showed great guts and a great will to win.”
After three consecutive wins Northern Ireland sit proudly on top of Group Three, a position that Feeney is keen the team do not relinquish.
“The performance against Poland has filled everyone with confidence, that is why we are all looking forward to the visit of Slovenia so we can hopefully pick up another vital three points which will consolidate our place at the top of the group,” he said.
Meanwhile, midfielder Sammy Clingan believes that if Northern Ireland can add to their tally of points with a win over Slovenia on Wednesday then qualification for the Finals in South Africa is still very much a on the cards.
“We have great characters in the dressing room,” said the cultured Norwich City playmaker.
“We have a no die attitude and everyone gives it there all right to the end.
“During the Euro 2008 campaign we showed we can compete and beat some of the best teams in the world and that has continued into this qualifying series, so yes there is huge belief within the squad that we can still make it to South Africa,” Clingan added.