Born and bred in Scotland he may have been, but new Windsor Park hero Ali McCann always had Northern Ireland on his mind - and his back.
As a boy, McCann's Craigavon-based grandparents Jack and Hilda used to buy him Northern Ireland strips. If his opening two full international appearances are anything to go by, he will continue to wear them for years to come.
McCann, who turned 21 on Friday, was one of the few bright spots from last month's triple-header when Northern Ireland lost to Slovakia in the crunch Euro 2020 Play-Off before going down to Austria in the Nations League and drawing at home to Romania in the same competition.
The energetic St Johnstone midfielder started both the Austria and Romania matches and excelled, offering hope for next year's World Cup qualifiers and future tournaments. Given the family influence, perhaps it was destiny that the Edinburgh boy would wear the green of Northern Ireland rather than the blue of Scotland.
"My dad (Ian) was born and raised in Portadown and my grandparents are from there as well," said McCann, speaking from the St Johnstone training ground in his first major interview since becoming a Northern Ireland international.
"Dad went to university in Scotland and met my mum and stayed in Scotland. My grandparents are in Craigavon now and our family used to go over every October on the ferry when we had a week off school.
"We always got the gear for Northern Ireland because my grandparents would get it for us. My uncle would also do that. My dad got us strips when we were younger as well, so I always had a Northern Ireland connection."
On making his senior international debut in Vienna, McCann said: "It was a bit surreal. The manager (Ian Baraclough) told me the day before the Austria game that I would be playing and after that I was buzzing.
"I kept thinking about the game and it came round quite quickly. I was a bit nervous beforehand, but once I got started and got my first touch I was alright.
"Everyone around me was saying, 'Just relax and play your normal game', so I prepared for it as I would do other matches. Coming into the squad everyone was really welcoming, so that helped me.
"It was strange being around great players like Steven Davis and Jonny Evans. The way they conduct themselves is brilliant. When I was growing up Steven Davis was playing and he is still going strong."
On his home debut, McCann said: "It was a thrill to play at Windsor Park. There were around 1,000 fans there and even having that small contingent made a huge difference, providing an atmosphere.
"I'd love to play in front of a full house at Windsor. I have seen it on the telly and we went to watch one when I was with the Under-21s. That was just a friendly against Luxembourg but even then the noise was unreal. Hopefully I'll get the chance to play at the ground when it is packed."
Ideally that will come next year in the World Cup qualifiers when the man sure to be dubbed Super Ali in years to come by the Green and White Army is set to be a key figure.
There is the confidence of youth with McCann, who will watch tomorrow night's World Cup qualifying group draw with interest.
"It doesn't bother me who we play because I think we have the quality to compete," he said.
"You have to back yourself against anyone. When you look around the squad, we have players who are in the Premier League in England and others who are doing great for their clubs, and I feel we have more than enough quality in the squad to challenge.
"In the three qualifying games in March that is our chance to forget about the Slovakia game and the Euro disappointment and hopefully make a good start in the World Cup. We have to fancy ourselves against anyone.
"The World Cup starts in March and it is a nine-month campaign, so the games will come around thick and fast. It is surreal to even think about being involved in World Cup qualifiers, and if we managed to do well and qualify and play in it that would be ridiculous!
"That's what you dream about when you are young, but we have to focus on the first three games and start well, and hopefully we will put ourselves in a good position for the rest of the campaign."