Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern admitted his pride after a heroic individual performance limited Germany to just one goal and boosted his country’s hopes of reaching the last 16 of Euro 2016.
The world champions swarmed all over Northern Ireland as they clinched top spot in Group C but only had Mario Gomez’s first-half strike to show for it due to McGovern’s series of vital stops in Paris.
That result means that Michael O’Neill’s unfancied team could reach the knockout stage as one of the four best third-placed teams, but will not discover their fate until tonight at the earliest.
“If it’s enough to get through then I’m very proud; if it’s not then I’ll be immensely disappointed,” said McGovern of his string of saves.
“It was busy today and mentally very hard. We knew that every goal was crucial so we wanted to keep it at one and maybe nick a goal of our own. Germany had a slow start but they were excellent – we could not get out.
“We worked so hard. Hopefully it’s enough to get through.”
Germany mustered their best display of the tournament yet, and peppered the Northern Irish goal with 28 shots, with forward Thomas Muller hitting the woodwork twice.
Time and again they were denied by McGovern, however, as the 31-year-old, who is a free agent after running down his contract at Scottish club Hamilton, produced an inspired performance.
He had already denied Mario Gotze from point-blank range when Gomez opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, prodding past a prone McGovern after Muller had attempted to round the keeper.
Germany continued to waste openings, with the usually-prolific Muller side-footing a shot onto the bar from Gotze’s cut-back and Gomez miscuing horribly when teed up by Mesut Ozil.
McGovern came into his own after the break, blocking a close-range volley from Gotze, who then poked wide seconds later before being promptly substituted by Joachim Low.
The Northern Ireland stopper then flung himself low to parry a Sami Khedira drive, from which Gomez failed to keep a follow-up header on target, and later tipped another effort from the target man wide.