When Liam Boyce was competing in the colours of Cliftonville he never could have imagined playing for Northern Ireland in the Aviva Stadium.
Despite featuring for Northern Ireland at Under-18 and Under-21 level, only the cream rises to the top.
German side Werder Bremen could identify a star in the making and snapped up the blossoming Boyce, who is now thriving in their Under-23 panel.
Although surprised to receive a call-up, Boyce is one of the most exciting young talents to come off the Northern Ireland conveyor belt in recent years and manager Nigel Worthington is expected to reward the player with his senior international debut against Scotland in the Carling Nations Cup.
“I played with the under-18s in the European Championships and played for the under-21s, so I had always hoped that I could progress through the ranks,” said Boyce.
“Hopefully I will continue to do well and stay in the first team.”
Boyce is expected to make a substitute appearance against the Scots and there is no doubt that the full-time training he is experiencing at Werder Bremen will transform him into a more dangerous player.
“I am definitely feeling the benefits of full-time training, being in Germany I get a lot more time and space on the ball and that’s the difference,” he added.
“It’s obviously good to learn a different style of football too, as opposed to learning the physical side in the Irish League, German football is really tactical and skilled.
“I trained with Cliftonville over the Christmas period during the winter break and the manager Eddie Patterson definitely saw a change in me, he said I was leaner and was good at using time on the ball well. I hope I can show a bit of that on Wednesday.
“The language is still a bit of a challenge, but I can now understand the manager at least.
“When they ask me questions sometimes I take too long to answer! I am studying German three times a week having never spoken a word of it before.”
Worthington’s preparations have been disrupted by seven withdrawals, but Boyce added: “Obviously I would love for everyone to be here, more of the senior ones for instance because they would be teaching me a lot more
“I’ve only trained once and I am already learning from David Healy.”