Friday 30 September 2016

Conor Washington: My late grandmother would be proud of Windsor Park goal

Published 29/03/2016 | 23:06

Conor Washington scored on his home debut for Northern Ireland
Conor Washington scored on his home debut for Northern Ireland

Conor Washington believes the grandmother who opened the door for him to play for Northern Ireland would have been proud of the goal that may have sealed his spot at Euro 2016.

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The 23-year-old Kent-born forward scored the winner in the 1-0 victory over Slovenia in Belfast on Monday night for a country he had only visited once before during a pre-season friendly with former club Peterborough.

Michael O'Neill was able to bring the ex non-league footballer into his fold because he qualified through his grandmother Pamela and Washington's impressive first performance is likely to have ensured he is in France this summer.

Having gone from postman to international footballer in four years, Washington was left to reflect and think of the woman who made his Northern Ireland recognition possible after a fine Windsor Park debut.

"My gran passed away about 10 years ago and she'd already moved from Belfast by the time I was born," Washington explained.

"She had a really strong accent so that has made it easier for me to understand everyone!

"She'd be really proud. I can't wait to speak to my mum and my girlfriend. I'm sure they will all be really proud."

Qualification for Euro 2016, Northern Ireland's first major tournament in 30 years, was already secured before Washington joined up with O'Neill's squad for the first time last week.

However, his winning goal meant he had a part to play in another piece of history as O'Neill's team made it 10 games unbeaten, a sequence that eclipsed a record previously set by Billy Bingham's 1986 group.

And Washington praised his new record-breaking international colleagues for helping him quickly find his feet.

"The record is incredible," Washington added. "That's 10 games unbeaten and that's something the lads have worked so hard to achieve.

"They are an unbelievable bunch of lads. There are absolutely no egos and the Premier League boys are so welcoming and have made it easy to fit in both with the style of play and behind the scenes with the lads.

"I think that is shown in performances and everyone is fighting tooth and nail for each other.

"I want to take every game as it comes and I was pleased to get my goal. I just have to keep working hard at QPR and see where it takes us."

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