Monkstown’s Michael Smith has described his Northern Ireland call-up as ‘a dream come true’.
The Peterborough United defender, who began his career at Ballyclare Comrades before moving on to Ballymena United, has been named in Michael O’Neill’s 24-man squad for the forthcoming friendlies against Wales and Slovenia.
“It’s obviously a dream come true to be called up to the senior squad. I’ve dreamt about it for years. It’s a proud moment for me and my family and I couldn’t be happier,” Smith told the Times.
“My manager (Graham Westley) had told me that I had been called up then Grant McCann congratulated me. That’s when it became real for me. I was over the moon.”
With Euro 2016 just around the corner, Smith knows his selection is a golden chance for him to make a big impression.
“I’ve got to impress the management in training and then hopefully I will make my debut, so it’s up to me to achieve my childhood dream,” he said.
“I grew up going to Northern Ireland games and to have the opportunity to play for my country at this most successful of times is a ‘pinch yourself’ moment”Michael Smith
“I grew up going to Northern Ireland games and to have the opportunity to play for my country at this most successful of times is a ‘pinch yourself’ moment.”
Smith is an exciting full-back who loves to get forward and it’s a facet of his game which hasn’t altered since his time at Dixon Park.
“My playing style hasn’t changed a lot since my Ballyclare days. I’m an attacking full-back who likes to play football and I can only get better training with this squad of players,” he commented.
Another new name in Northern Ireland panel is Queens Park Rangers frontman Conor Washington. He’s player Smith knows well from when the two played together at The Posh.
“I know Conor very well and he’s a fantastic striker. I have no doubt that he will impress everyone with his strength, speed and eye for goal. I’m pleased for him to be called into the squad alongside me.”