Belfast Telegraph

Soaking up the atmosphere at Windsor was a dream come true, says top prospect Ethan Galbraith


Great experience: Northern Ireland’s Ethan Galbraith in action against Luxembourg on Thursday
Great experience: Northern Ireland’s Ethan Galbraith in action against Luxembourg on Thursday

By Steven Beacom

Manchester United teenager Ethan Galbraith has spoken about his pride and joy at making his Northern Ireland senior team debut and why it meant so much to him to have captain Steven Davis beside him as he did it.

Galbraith came off the bench during Thursday night's 1-0 friendly success over Luxembourg at Windsor Park. The double substitution by boss Michael O'Neill in the 88th minute saw the 18-year-old enter the fray with the experienced Rangers star who happens to be his hero.

"It was unbelievable to make my debut for Northern Ireland. It is something I've always dreamed about and to do it was an incredible feeling," said midfielder Galbraith.

"Coming on with Steven Davis was unreal. Even just to stand beside him was crazy. I have looked up to Steven since I've been a kid with him being Northern Ireland captain.

"He has always been one of my favourite players and I would say he is the player I've looked up to most since I was growing up for what he has achieved in his career."

Prior to Thursday Galbraith had only played once at Windsor when he was a youth team star at Linfield.

"Yes, that was for Linfield when I was under 16.

"Against Luxembourg was my first experience of playing at Windsor in a senior game and also in front of a big crowd so it was great," he said.

The Old Trafford youngster started what became a whirlwind week with Ian Baraclough's Under-21 squad.

"It's been crazy. I was picked for the Under-21s squad and then on Monday everyone trained together - the first team and the 21s," explained Galbraith, who along with Cardiff's Ciaron Brown and Leeds United's Alfie McCalmont was one of the three debutants versus Luxembourg.

"On Tuesday me and Alfie trained with the firsts and then on Wednesday we trained with the Under-21s.

"Ian (Baraclough) said we might be involved in the game but we didn't really think anything of it and then on Thursday night to actually get on was incredible. I really couldn't believe it."

Asked what O'Neill said as he made his bow, Galbraith revealed: "I don't play right wing but he said 'would you like a taste of it and go on to play right wing out of position and enjoy the atmosphere' and I was buzzing to be honest."

While he is now a senior international, Galbraith has yet to play for the United first team. He is progressing well, however, at under-23 level and has trained with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

"Things are going very well. This season we have played four games and are unbeaten. I'm playing every week which is great. I train with the first team quite a lot. Our manager (Neil Wood) tries to push us up.

"Breaking through for Northern Ireland is a childhood dream and hopefully I can break through at United."

Galbraith is a wonderful talent. He is also a level-headed young man which will stand him in good stead going forward. He offers an insight into his mentality and ambition when quizzed on who he most admires at United.

"Scott McTominay because he's come through the youth.

"Things didn't really go for him when he was playing for the youth team but he has battled hard and really worked and got to where he wants to be," said Galbraith.

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