Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has praised his side after knocking out Bosnia and Herzegovina in the qualification playoffs and securing a spot in Euro 2016.
The Irish won 3-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw on the road and a 2-0 win at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin after two goals by Stoke City striker Jonathan Walters.
“There was a whole team of heroes out there,” O’Neill told The Guardian. “We got there in the end and it is the best moment of my career, in any shirt. To qualify for the European Championship finals is unbelievable. You’ve got to take in the atmosphere because these moments don’t come around in a career very often. The management team deserve lots of credit –they have been excellent throughout the campaign.”
Walters, 32, now has 10 international goals in 38 caps.
“Walters has had a qualifying tournament to remember,” O’Neill said. “There have been a number of fantastic performances and fantastic performers and I think Walters has topped the lot. He has been exceptional.”
O’Neill added: “I couldn’t be more proud because they are a fantastic bunch of players. They all want to play for their country. That’s important because you hear that some players find it a chore playing for their country. Well, I’ve not experienced that at all in my two years.
“They gave everything. I don’t think they had anything left to give at the end. The spirit has been so strong. We may lack an occasional piece of absolute genius but we’ve been great. We deserve to go and that moment when the referee’s whistle went, and we’ve reached France, was just very special. I thought the Germany game [winning 1-0] was wonderful but I think it was eclipsed tonight. And these are the moments you live for.”