Jack Grealish leads plaudits as emotional Ollie Watkins is left ‘speechless’ after netting on England debut
Ollie Watkins couldn’t hide his emotion after he scored a debut goal for England in their 5-0 World Cup qualifying victory over San Marino.
Twenty minutes after coming on for his international bow, the Aston Villa striker’s wildest dreams came true as he drilled a low shot past Simone Benedettini for his first Three Lions goal.
Having made his debut for the League Two club as an 18-year-old in May 2014, Watkins has enjoyed a meteoric rise up football’s ranks.
He was the Championship’s hottest property last season as his 26 goals in 50 games helped Brentford reach the play-off final, while his hat-trick against Liverpool earlier this season proved that Villa were wise to spend £28million on English talent.
And the 25-year-old was left lost for words after his dream of representing his country came true on at Wembley on Thursday evening.
Watkins told ITV: “It’s unbelievable, it’s what I’ve dreamt about to be honest.
“All day in the hotel I was just thinking about ‘I hope I get a chance and just enjoy it and get that opportunity to potentially score’ but I didn’t know it would happen. I’m speechless.
“It’s been a good journey. I just feel honoured that I can come out here and pull on the shirt and get the chance to play with the players I’m playing with and even score on my debut. I couldn’t write it, I’m over the moon.”
Jack Grealish also expressed his pride for his Villa teammate following his debut goal.
He tweeted: “Over the moon for Ollie, could see just how much it meant to him during his interview there at the end.”
England manager Southgate said he happy with his side’s performance after his side got their World Cup qualifying campaign to a winning start.
He said: “I was really pleased with not only the way we moved the ball quickly and the interchange of positions, but the way we pressed when we lost the ball highlighted the mentality of the team for the whole 90 minutes.
“Of course it’s an opponent we should beat but I thought they went about their job really well.
“I thought the midfield players moved the ball really well. Kalvin Phillips, I was really pleased for him. He’s used the ball well but his athleticism around the pitch was good.
“Mason (Mount) in the first half was excellent, set the tone. Good to see Jesse (Lingard) look like he’s enjoying his football again so I thought there were a lot of good things.”