By Steve Neville
Sean Maguire says his call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad is the realisation of a life long dream.
The Preston North End striker was named in Martin O'Neill's final 32-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers with Moldova and Wales.
Speaking to media after the announcement, Maguire spoke about considering quitting while also heaping praise on former manager John Caulfield.
"Looking back two years ago I wasn't getting a look in at Dundalk. Two years on I'm on the verge of making my dream come true.
"There were stages when I was at Dundalk where my head wasn't in the right place. But I had good people around me who made that right.
"Obviously my parents played a big part in keeping me focused and not letting my head go. There was stages where...when I just wanted to give up...just lost interest.
"I'll never forget that phone call I got off John Caulfield because I wouldn't be sitting here if it wasn't for him," the striker added.
Maguire joined Caulfield at Cork City in 2015 and quickly established himself as a fan favourite on Leeside.
Making 51 league appearances, Maguire scored 38 goals in that time while also scoring the winner in the 2016 FAI Cup.
Maguire has since joined Championship side Preston North End where he has enjoyed a bright start to his career at Deepdale.
With two goals and two assists to his name so far, he spoke about stepping up from the League of Ireland to the Championship.
"It's a bit different to League of Ireland, physically and mentally. Especially playing out wide you need to be concentrating on most of the game because you're defending 50% of the time."
"I've found myself playing all across the front four. I'm really enjoying it," Maguire added.
Speaking about his new international team-mates, Maguire spoke highly of one fellow striker.
"Shane Long is a player that I've idolised from a very young age," Maguire said.
"He's a player that I've looked up to in every way. He's the type of striker I look at myself as."
Maguire will be hoping to make his debut in one of Ireland's final two World Cup qualifiers.
Ireland host Moldova in the Aviva Stadium on Friday, October 6 before travelling to Cardiff to take on Wales on Monday, October 9.