Aiden O’Brien is determined not to be a one-hit wonder after launching his senior international career with a first Republic of Ireland goal.
The 24-year-old Millwall striker was handed a first cap by manager Martin O’Neill in Poland on Tuesday evening in the midst of a selection crisis, and headed Ireland to within three minutes of victory before they eventually had to settle for a 1-1 draw in Wroclaw.
However, having made a dream start for his country, he is desperate to build upon it.
O’Brien said: “It all starts off a dream and now I have made it reality.
“I’ve just got to sit down now and let it just sink in because I don’t want it to be my last goal, I want to keep scoring for my country every time I put the shirt on. Hopefully I can get loads more goals with a green jersey on.
“I’m here to be counted. One day I want to be leading the line for Ireland whenever we have got games, for the World Cup, whatever it may.
“I want to be here for the long run and today hopefully I made a statement. I don’t want my standards to drop with club football or with my national team.
“Just bring on the next campaign.”
O’Brien got his chance with senior strikers Shane Long and Jonathan Walters unavailable and recent additions to the set-up Scott Hogan and Sean Maguire also missing, but took full advantage, meeting Callum O’Dowda’s 53rd-minute cross and heading past Poland keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
He said: “It was one to remember. As you could see by my facials on the big screen, it probably showed that I was so surprised and shocked to have scored, I didn’t know what to do.”
O’Brien’s idol as a child was Holland superstar Dennis Bergkamp, and he and his fellow Ireland strikers have similarly big boots to fill as O’Neill plots the way forward with Denmark and Wales awaiting when the Nations League resumes next month.
The manager’s efforts to fill the void left by Robbie Keane when he retired two years ago having scored 68 times for his country have yielded mixed results, and the latest man to try to plug the gap is refusing to think too far ahead.
O’Brien said: “It’s a bit too early to say something like that because he [Keane] is a massive legend. I’m just trying to be Aiden O’Brien.
“I want to try to make a name for myself and my country, and hopefully I can do that. I’ve always been a goalscorer. Whether I play out wide for Millwall, whether I play in behind, whether I play up front, I always sniff out the ball.
“I always know where the ball is going to drop and I always score goals, and I can back myself from any position I play in that I’m going to get a chance.
“Nine times out of 10, I’d back myself to put it in the net and that’s what happened today. I got my one chance and I put it in the back of the net.”
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