France coach Raymond Domenech hailed his veteran stars after Les Bleus came from behind to beat Spain 3-1 and book a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
Spain took the lead through David Villa's 28th-minute penalty, but were pegged back before half-time thanks to Franck Ribery's cool finish.
The match appeared to be heading for extra-time until two of the stars of France's 1998 World Cup triumph, Patrick Vieira and Zinedine Zidane, netted in the last eight minutes.
"It was very tough for the players. It was a remarkable match in every way. We may have a team of old men but we know how to be patient," said Domenech.
"Younger people run out of breath. There's something exceptional waiting for us, unique emotions."
The victory set up a last eight meeting against Brazil, who France beat in the 1998 final.
"France versus Brazil, that's a nice memory for the French people," said Zidane, who scored twice when Les Bleus triumphed in Paris.
"But this quarter-final has to be played. We'll be prepared for it. We're all very happy to be in it."
The 34-year-old, who is to retire after the tournament, added: "It was a celebration today. The Spanish made it very difficult for us. The adventure continues.
"We wanted to accomplish something and show the people that we had the qualities even if in the group stage there were difficult matches."
Spain coach Luis Aragones was understandably disappointed to see his highly-rated young team crash out at the second round stage, but praised his players for their efforts in Germany.
"When players give everything you can't ask any more. They're still young and have another chance in the future," said Aragones.
"Football is unjust sometimes, but not always. France were very tough opponents."