Queens Park Rangers

QPR winger grabs winner on debut international appearance

QPR winger Paul Smyth scored the winner for Northern Ireland on his international debut after coming off the bench against South Korea.

The QPR starlet had completed a full ninety minutes for the U21s against Spain just 48 hours prior but – with eight minutes remaining – Smyth fired home to win against the South Koreans.

His goal, coming late in an even game, made him the first Northern Irishman to score on his international debut since 2001.

When Manager Michael O’Neill was questioned about what his final words to Smyth before his debut appearance were, he said: “I just asked him had he got 10 minutes running in him because he played 90 minutes the other night.

“I told him to go and enjoy it. He loved it, you could just see. His enthusiasm for the game is infectious, the boys love him, he knows all the players because he spent 40-odd days with them in France [at Euro 2016].

“It was great for him, he’s a player with a big future, but he has to work hard, he knows that himself. He’s still very small, he’s still very light but he’s a huge heart for the game and we’re delighted with him.

“We were laughing about [his weight] actually in the treatment room. I think he’s about nine-and-a-half stone. I was laughing because it was the same weight I was when I went to Newcastle at 18. He’s very slight.”

With Smyth regularly featuring for QPR in the Sky Bet Championship, O’Neill admitted that the winger will be considered when selecting his future Northern Ireland squads.

“We’ve known him since he was at Linfield, he’s not just suddenly come on our radar because he pops up and plays with QPR.

“He’s been in our U19s and U21s. We took him to France when he was at Linfield and we’ve had him in the squad on other occasions as a training player.

“He’s in on merit now. He’s got himself to a level at club football that means we have to consider him. He’s done well at club football and for him to come off the bench for the last 10 minutes and give us what he gave us is brilliant.”

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