Peterborough United full-back Michael Smith was overjoyed at making his full Northern Ireland debut last night (March 28).
Smith (27) played 65 minutes as a right wing-back in his side’s 1-0 friendly win over Slovenia in Belfast. Former Posh striker Conor Washington scored the only goal of the game - his first goal since leaving Posh for QPR in a £2.5 million deal in January.
“What a great experience that was,” Smith, who is hoping to force his way into the Northern Ireland squad for the Euros Finals in France this summer, said.
“It was amazing to make my debut at Windsor Park — it was everything and more than I ever thought it would be,” he told the Belfast Telegraph,
“I played here during my Irish League career, but this was another level. I was coming here 10 years and supporting the lads, and now I am playing for the team. It was a dream come true.”
Northern Ireland, who are now unbeaten in 10 matches, are next in action at home to Belarus in a friendly at the end of May. Washington now looks a certainty to stay in the squad after an impresive persosnal display last night.
Washington told the Belfast Telegraph: “It doesn’t get much better than that. It is a fairytale. It has to be one of the highlights of my career so far, without a doubt. Playing at Windsor Park for the first time was a great experience.
“It is one of the best atmospheres I have ever experienced, and that’s with only three of the four stands open. Hopefully I get to experience it many times.
“I had another good chance to score but the goalkeeper saved it. I just worked hard and tried to fit into the team.
“The reception when I came off was fantastic. I could have played another 45 minutes when I heard that — it was incredible. I have to say it was a real joy to play at the stadium,
“It is great being part of the Northern Ireland set-up. They are an unbelievable set of lads.
“Even the Premier League lads are so humble and helped me fit into the squad. I think it shows in performances like that — everyone fights tooth and nail for everyone else.”
Posh centre-back Gaby Zakuani played the full game as DR Congo beat Angola 2-1 in a home African Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday (March 26). DR Congo play in Angola in the same competition today (March 29).
On-loan Posh left-back Harry Toffolo played 90 minuytes as England Under 20s were beaten 2-1 by Canada in a friendly at Doncaster on Sunday (March 27).
On-loan Posh midfielder Martin Samuelsen played for Norway Under 21s in a 1-0 friendly defeat in Spain last night. Everton star Gerard Deulofeu scored the only goal. Norway also lost 1-0 to Holland on good Friday. It was 18 year-old Samuelsen’s first selection for Norway Under 21s.
Posh left-back Kgosi Ntlhe played the first 45 minutes of South Africa’s 3-1 defeat in Brazil in an under 23 friendly.