Dream comes true for Welsh teen Wood­burn

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL -

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 of 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 ON TAR­GET: – who won his 80th cap against Aus­tria – were all capped while still in their teens. And the An­field youth prod­uct said he has been quickly made to feel at home with the rest of the squad.

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 play- ers 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 in to 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.”

Ben Wood­burn, aged 17, be­came the sec­ond youngest scorer for Wales in their 1-0 win over Aus­tria.

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