Former St Ives Town striker Conor Washington’s meteoric footballing rise came complete with another milestone moment tonight.
Postman-turned-international star Washington, who was still playing part-time football three-and-a-half years ago, enjoyed a memorable home debut for Northern Ireland when scoring the only goal in their friendly triumph over Slovenia at Windsor Park in Belfast.
It was the 23 year-old’s second cap for a country he qualifies to represent through a grandmother. He was handed his first start in a friendly draw in Wales last Thursday.
However, despite making a big impression in recent days, Washington insists he is refusing to think about a place in the country’s squad for the European Championships this summer just yet.
Washington said: “The last four years have been a fairytale for me. It’s been crazy.
“It is brilliant to have got my chance to play international football and great to score my first goal.
“I had a chance earlier in the game and was disappointed not to see that go in, but took the next opportunity.
I had to move a couple of defenders out of the way and cut inside. The goalkeeper was already heading towards the far corner so I put my shot the other side and it was great to see it go in.
“I thought we played really well and deserved the win, and it was great to get the goal.
“It is nice to be part of a team playing well and hopefully we can take that form into the tournament this summer.
“The boys have been so welcoming and made it easy for me to join the squad.
“I’m not going to think about the Euros at this stage though. I’m just focused on continuing to work hard for the rest of this season at QPR.”
Washington earned rave reviews from Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill for his first two international performances and attitude in training.
O’Neill said: “We have seen tonight Conor’s hunger and ability to score goals.
“I saw that when I first watched him at Peterborough and he has brought it onto the international stage with him.
“He is a raw striker with speed and strength, and took his goal very well.
“He has done himself no harm at all with his two performances and the way he has trained and fitted in with the group during the week.
“He is certainly going to be an asset to us.”
Washington scored a stack of goals at United Counties League level for St Ives before earning a move to a Newport County side then in the Conference, in October 2012.
He helped the Welsh club win promotion to the Football League before joining Peterborough in January 2014. Two years later he was on the move again to Championship outfit QPR for a reported £3 million.