Northern Ireland head coach Michael O'Neill believes age and experience are two major factors which continue to drive his players on.
O'Neill and his squad bring down the curtain on a superb 2016 with a Belfast friendly against Croatia on Tuesday evening, with the Irish aiming to end on yet another high note.
The summer saw them appear at a first-ever European Championship finals tournament, with O'Neill's men acquitting themselves well to progress to the knockout stages, before being edged out 1-0 by Wales.
Since then they have started well in World Cup qualifying and are currently in second place in Group C behind world champions Germany.
And O'Neill has pointed to the ageing nature of his squad as a plus rather than a minus, saying: "A lot of our key players are 30-plus, but maybe what that gives us in our favour is they don't want this to stop, they want it to last as long as it can.
"When you've played a lot of international football you want it to last as long as possible, because they have played through some dark days as well.
"The legacy, hopefully, this group of players leave is a positive one, not only from the Euros but going forward, because they genuinely want to go to a World Cup and push for that and be in contention for that."
Croatia and Northern Ireland have never met before on the international stage and the visitors arrive having won their last three games without conceding a goal.
The Croats are 6/5 to keep another clean sheet on Tuesday evening, with a goalless draw priced at 6/1, while Kyle Lafferty – who has scored three times in his last three Ireland appearances – is 3/1 to find the net at any time.
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