Evan Ferguson lived up to the big billing as the Republic of Ireland defeated Latvia 3-2 on Wednesday at the Aviva Stadium.
The 18-year-old finished off Michael Obafemi’s 17th minute cut-back to back up all the hype with his debut goal for the Boys in Green.
“Obviously, it was an unbelievable feeling," said Ferguson.
"On Tuesday, I got the call that I was going to start. I was just getting my mind right. As a striker, you always want to get a goal. It was nice to get the goal. It was more instinct. To try and stay alive. And hopefully the ball bounces to you. It’s similar to what I do back at Brighton. It’s a similar role."
On his record breaking season in the Premier League with the Seagulls, the former Bohs man stated “It’s just gone so quick. There’s no breaks, or time to sit back and think about what I’m doing. It’s just week by week. Another game. I’m just trying to concentrate on the next one."
With such expectation, Ferguson admitted he was taking it all in his stride.
"It’s all just talk at the end of the day. People get excited by it all. It really doesn’t bother me. At the end of the day, it’s just a game of football.”
But he conceded “There’s no other feeling. Playing a home game, getting the goal. There’s no better feeling.”
The teenager admitted he is eyeing a starring role against France next Monday.
“Hopefully. We’ll see. At the end of the day it’s (Stephen Kenny’s) choice. He’s going to pick who he thinks is right. We’ll have to wait and see. I think France is a bigger game. We’ll see how we are as a team, and individuals. They were in the last World Cup final.
Meanwhile, Will Smallbone picked up the man of the match accolade on his debut in front of 41,200 fans.
“It was a great day, from being told I was going to play. Then to be out there playing. And getting the win makes it even better for a debut,” said the Southampton playmaker on loan at Stoke.
The 23-year-old was involved in both of the first half goals including an assist. “I thought we really came out with a lot of confidence in the first 20 minutes.
"We played some good football. It was disappointing to go in at half time at 2-2. Their first goal was not one you see everyday. And we were disappointed with the second one. But the most important thing was to come out and get the win in the second half. I thought the lads were good.”
He revealed the team had worked on the set-up for Callum O’Dowda’s opener. “It was something we had worked on before the game. If (Matt Doherty) was high, it was up to me to whip the ball into the box. Cal was on the end of it. It was a good finish. And a good start to the game."
Smallbone also played his part in Ferguson’s first senior score for Ireland. “Matt is a good player and helped me a lot on my debut. We seemed to have a good understanding when he came inside, I got on the outside. Hopefully, we can keep that going.”
Having excelled at U21 level, the midfielder stressed it was a dream come though to make his international debut. "I’ve always dreamed – coming through the ages with Ireland – to get to this day. To get the win, and play well, and to get the man of the match, makes it even better.”