Nigel Worthington was full of praise for his youthful Northern Ireland side that were beaten 3-0 by Italy in his final game in charge.
Worthington's squad was decimated by injuries and withdrawals for his final game in charge.
In that respect, Worthington's hand was forced and his side were no match for Antonio Cassano who scored a goal in each half to give his side the platform for victory.
Gareth McAuley scored a deflating own-goal but despite the loss, Worthington still saluted the effort of his team.
"They were fantastic, the energy they expended against an excellent side," he said.
"There were many youngsters out there tonight, we had seven senior players missing and they put a real shift in.
"I'm very proud of them, the group of youngsters we've got is really strong, and one thing with youngsters is you've got to give them time to mature."