Queens Park Rangers: QPR youngster Paul Smyth thrilled to mark Northern Ireland debut with goal
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Rs forward scored winner for Green and White Army in friendly win against South Korea
Queens Park Rangers forward Paul Smyth had another debut to remember on Saturday, this time for Northern Ireland.
The youngster made his mark on his first appearance for the Rs on January 1 this year, netting the winner in the Championship at home to Cardiff City.
It was a similar story at the weekend for the former Linfield man as he scored the decisive goal for the Green and White Army in a 2-1 friendly success at home to South Korea.
Scoring a goal on his international debut was another milestone on Smyth’s rapid rise to prominence over the past couple of months.
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And the 20-year-old was delighted his first appearance for his country proved to be such a memorable one.
“I was just dreaming about it the night before, thinking if I get my chance, I’d try to take it with both hands,” he told the QPR website.
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“Thankfully (Northern Ireland manager) Michael (O’Neill) gave me the last 10 minutes and I took my chance.”
Smyth’s debut for his country marked a whirlwind few days for the youngster, who was only playing for the under-21s on Thursday.
The attacker played the full 90 minutes for the under-21s as they suffered a 5-3 home defeat against Spain.
After the game, Smyth was informed by O’Neill he was being called up to the senior team because of injuries to other players.
And the youngster admits that once he knew he was in the senior squad, the nerves began.
“It was after the Spain game that I found out I was in the senior squad,” added Smyth.
“Michael came into the dressing room after the game, spoke to a couple of lads and that’s when he said I was coming with him. That was when the nerves and excitement kicked in.
“I was nervous when I got the call for the last 10 minutes and it’s hard to work off nerves, but I went out there with a calm head and worked as hard as I could.”
Fellow QPR forward Conor Washington nabbed the assist for Smyth’s goal against South Korea, and the 20-year-old was pleased his club colleague was able to play such a big part.
“Me and Conor linking up again, as we do in training,” he joked. “As he headed the ball down, I told him it’s mine, so I’m glad he didn’t take it on!”