Shane Long believes the Republic of Ireland’s journey to the knockout stages of EURO 2016 is among the best stories in Irish football – but insists the players have no intention of ending it there.
Martin O’Neill’s team advanced from a daunting group, which included Italy, Belgium and Sweden, to reach the last 16, where they will now face tournament hosts France, on Saturday (2pm BST).
The Irish will be heavy underdogs for the match, in Lyon, but, having just beaten Italy, Long says there is a confidence among the squad that they can continue their journey.
“Beating Italy was special and it wasn’t as if we just nicked a win,” the Southampton striker said at a press conference. “Every one of us will remember that game.
“It [the game against France] is another a chance for us to make this tournament a memorable one and we are not going to let that slip away.
“I don’t think that anyone expected to get out of the group and to do it with the way that we have done is up there with the best stories in Irish football. Now, if we can make it through again, it would something really special.”
Long added: “It’s a very good French defence, a very good French team. It’s going to be hard to break them down, but we’ve got a few different options.”