Josh Magennis says there are no nerves in the Northern Ireland camp ahead of Monday night’s crucial World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic.
A win will see Michael O’Neill’s men secure second place in the group and the Charlton Athletic striker, who bagged a vital brace in Friday night’s 3-0 win over San Marino, is looking forward to another big night at Windsor Park.
“I think all the nerves were possibly at the start of the campaign, especially coming off the back of a good Euros,” said Magennis.
“It was whether we could kick on again and do well in the group stages, which we have managed to do.
“It’s not that there is nerves or apprehension, it’s just having the foresight to see that what happened last year could possibly happen again.
“It will maybe be a harder way to do it with the play-offs, unless something happens to Germany, which no-one is expecting to happen, but with football you never know.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time as Michael always says, it’s a bit clichéd but that’s all we can do. We are really looking forward to it.
“We didn’t really give an account of ourselves at all (in Prague), and we were disappointed because how we can play to how we did play was nowhere near to what we expected.
“It was enough to get the draw and get the point, which could be crucial coming into the business end.
“To try and correct it is not going to be easy, it’s not just going to be the case of if we play better we’re going to win. The Czech side is still going to be unbelievably tough, but know if we do what we are good at then we are a hard team to stop.”
The all-conquering Gemany side may currently sit at the top of Qualifying Group C but Magennis has not yet given up hope of reeling them in, especially as Joachim Löw’s side still have to visit Belfast.
Magennis said: “Of course we have to have that mentality. That’s where our success has come from, to have that winning mentality and be positive, and even though it might be a long shot, or people might not expect it, we’ve done a lot of thing that people didn’t expect.
“We can only concentrate on the games we have to play and the Germany game will take care of itself next month.
“Obviously it’s what you want as a footballer, there’s no bigger stage, especially for Northern Ireland, to be able to play at Windsor.
“The Germans have probably played on similar stages but to have that type of atmosphere is probably hard to replicate, especially from the Northern Ireland fans.
“It’s something we will relish and nights at Windsor, from past to present, anything can happen.
“We know it might be tough, but we know we have more than enough to cause problems and anything can happen on your day.”
Either way Northern Ireland are determined to secure their place in Russia and make it back-to-back qualification for major tournaments for the first time, which would be an amazing feat for O’Neill and his squad.
“At that time taking part in the Euros was the pinnacle for most of us apart from Jonny (Evans) who has won Premier Leagues, been involved in Champions League squads,” said Magennis.
“He’s maybe been the only one who has come close to that type of euphoric feeling.
“What we felt was unbelievable and we managed to share it together. At that time you were thinking with the more senior players in the team how long are they going to be able to keep on playing regularly for their country and their club. Are people going to retire, injuries, loss of form?
“There was just a multitude of things after the Euros, which was only right because we had done so well and people were asking is this a one trick pony and is this the best that can come?
“We had a meeting on Tuesday when Michael told us what he was expecting 12 months ago. What he expected to what has happened is along the same lines to what he asked for.
“That’s what happened in the last campaign in how he wanted to get to the Euros.
“We are on course, we are not getting carried away by thinking it’s going to be easy or that if we just show up we’re going to win.
“We know the fundamental of us winning is working hard and the team dynamic is absolutely huge.
“At this moment in time it’s just as good, possibly even pushing better because there are youngsters coming through, and the group dynamic is possibly even better because it has been a consistent dynamic for the past four years.
“The success has been shown by having that continuity with the team and the squad. We are in a good place at the minute and we just want to keep it going.”