Ben Woodburn fulfills his dream with goal on Wales debut

Wales teenager Ben Woodburn has admitted his incredible arrival on the international stage was a dream come true.

Woodburn, 17, made his senior bow for Wales in their crucial 2018 World Cup qualifying clash with Austria in Cardiff when he appeared as a second-half substitute.

And the Liverpool striker took just 261 seconds to mark the occasion with a brilliant goal to win the Group D fixture, a result that cuts Wales’ gap to the Republic of Ireland in second to two points.

Woodburn became the second-youngest player to score for Wales when he found the bottom corner from 22 yards after 74 minutes at the Cardiff City Stadium.

He was quickly embraced in celebration by the man who holds the record, Gareth Bale, as Wales revived their hopes of making the finals in Russia next summer.

“It was just a dream come true,” said Woodburn, who has been part of Chris Coleman’s senior squads since March but had to wait to win his first cap.

“The manager said to me before I went on to enjoy myself and help the team as best as I could, and hopefully I did that. That was what was running through my mind when I came on.

“The ball came out of the air and I took it down and tried to get it out my feet as quick as I could, and then luckily when I hit it it went in.

“I do like to do a few shots at the end of training, so thankfully it paid off. I was just happy to get the three points and now we go to Moldova and hopefully carry on.”

Already Liverpool’s youngest scorer, Woodburn – who turns 18 next month – has joined a national set-up littered with players who were given their chance early by Wales.

Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Ben Davies and Chris Gunter – who won his 80th cap against Austria – were all capped while still in their teens.

A young Gareth Bale in action for Wales in 2007
A young Gareth Bale in action for Wales in 2007 (Nick Potts/PA)

And the Anfield youth product said he has been quickly made to feel at home with the rest of the squad, who are now targeting a second successive appearance at a major finals following their success in reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Woodburn, who has made nine appearances for Liverpool since making his debut last November, said: “It’s been a good experience.

“The manager and the players have been great with me, they have treated me just like one of them, it has been easy to bond with everybody. Obviously it is nerve-racking coming into any squad, but the players really welcomed me and helped me to feel at home.

“Hopefully this is just the start and to qualify for the World Cup would be another dream.”

Wales now play Group D’s bottom team Moldova in Chisinau on Tuesday while the top two, Serbia and the Republic, meet in Dublin.

Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

Serving quality football news from around the globe. No click-bait.