New Zealand forward Chris Killen claims his country can no longer be treated as the laughing stock of world football.
The 2,000-1 rank outsiders produced the greatest result in their history yesterday as they defied the odds to hold world champions Italy to a 1-1 draw at the FIFA World Cup™.
With two points from their two games, the All Whites now know they can reach the second round for the first time with victory against Paraguay in their final Group F match on Thursday.
Few predicated that at the start of the tournament and Killen is pleased to have proved the critics wrong. The Middlesbrough striker said: "We got laughed at before going on that pitch. I think most commentators, most pundits wrote us off.
"That gave us incentive to shove it back in their faces and I think we did. For New Zealand football this is a bit of history."
We have no brilliant individuals - we are not technically as good as the Italians but it's a big heart that we've got.
Aside from inspirational captain Ryan Nelsen, of Blackburn, the Kiwis have few recognised stars and two of their players - Simon Elliott and Dave Mulligan - are currently without clubs.
Yesterday's goalscorer Shane Smeltz, now of Gold Coast United, lists English non-league sides Halifax Town and AFC Wimbledon among his former teams.
"Italy could have had three or four on another night but we are all about heart and desire," added Killen. "We have no brilliant individuals - we are not technically as good as the Italians but it's a big heart that we've got. Every one of us put everything into it.
"We had our backs to the wall for a long spell - in the last 15-20 minutes we didn't really get out of our own half. But you have always got a chance if you put in the effort and hard work. Sometimes it pays off and it did here."
Smeltz put New Zealand ahead in the seventh minute, Italy levelled with a Vincenzo Iaquinta penalty and then went on to dominate. But New Zealand were resolute in defence, limited them to a handful of clear-cut chances, and when shots did come in on goal, keeper Mark Paston proved to be in fine form.
"You could see a lot of long balls coming in from them. That was playing into our hands and that's what we wanted," added Killen. "Our defence has been pretty solid so far and it was playing to our strengths."