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Jamie Reid relishes ‘dream’ debut for Northern Ireland in 1-1 draw with Romania

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Mar 2024

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Northern Ireland’s latest goal-scorer Jamie Reid admitted he thought his opportunity to play international football had gone before he enjoyed a “dream” debut in Friday’s 1-1 friendly draw with Romania.

At 29 Reid was the oldest player in Michael O’Neill’s youthful starting eleven but he grasped his long-awaited chance as he put Northern Ireland in front just seven minutes in at the National Arena in Bucharest.

“It was an unbelievable start and a dream debut,” Reid said. “What a way to ease your way into international football by scoring in the first seven minutes. It was unbelievable…

“To be fair I came into this camp on a bit of a drought. I hadn’t scored for five or six games at my club so I knew I was due a goal and it was timed perfectly for here.”

In the decade since making two appearances for the Northern Ireland under-21s, Reid spent time on loan at non-league sides Dorchester and Truro before leaving Exeter for Torquay, Mansfield and most recently Stevenage, where he has scored 21 goals in 44 appearances this season to catch O’Neill’s eye.

“Five years ago I was playing in the Conference South for Torquay and I probably thought this day was gone but I got my head down and worked hard every time I got the chance to play,” Reid added. “I tried to express myself and it has got me to where I am now.”

Reid, who is eligible for Northern Ireland through his maternal grandmother, first learned he was in the frame for an international call-up a week before O’Neill named his squad for this window on March 14, something he called an “unbelievably proud” moment for him and his family.

He made the most of that opportunity, with O’Neill quickly impressed by his desire to learn. On Thursday, the manager told Reid he would be starting against Romania.

Northern Ireland were on the front foot from the start in Bucharest thanks to the youthful energy of Conor Bradley, Shea Charles, Isaac Price and others, and it was Bradley and Price who combined to set up Reid.

“I’ve only just been with the squad for the last two days but the emphasis on the quick counter attack was obviously what I saw,” Reid said. “It was a pleasure to play with those guys because they are good young players and Shea has gone through and put it on a plate for me really.

“I don’t want this to be the end of my international career. I want to kick on. It will be hard because there are good players here and good competition but I’m looking forward to it and my next goal is to part of the next team.”

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