CONOR SAMMON took a giant step forward in Yankee Stadium with a performance against Spain which just might silence his many doubters.
Asked to help patrol midfield and give the Spanish defence a physical threat to deal with, he performed his role well and did much more too.
"As a striker you are looking at the midfield and the defence trying to defend, but you know you have got to be ready to be an out-ball for the team," said the Derby County man.
"You are used to watching these players on the TV and then when you are standing next to them and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Xavi (Hernandez), (Andres) Iniesta, (Gerard) Pique, (Sergio) Ramos, those kind of boys, it's incredible to test yourself against them. It was nice to go out and give them a tough game as well."
"I always believed I was good enough to play, but it's just finding that opportunity and getting yourself into the manager's plans. I'm delighted the way my last year or so has come around, and particularly the last few months in an Ireland shirt as well has made me very proud.
"I am delighted at the route I have taken. I have been able to do my Leaving Cert, spend time at home with my family and grow up and mature as a person.
"You appreciate it that bit more, even when I have come from a background of training part-time to then suddenly become full-time, you really do appreciate it more.
"There's lots of quality in the League of Ireland and it's up to the lads, definitely, the fellas who have made it into the international team to show that it is possible and hard work and determination can get you anywhere, really."
Sammon had one breakaway chance to turn a good night personally into a magical one but his shot went a few yards wide. "It was just a long ball up the field and I could see Pique maybe in two minds as to whether I was going to go for it or not. I just caught him off guard and suddenly, I had a few touches and I was in on goal and just looked to place it into that far corner.
"It was really good to get into that position and it does show that these world-class players are human and make mistakes.
"We knew if we were on the ball and pressured them that we could create chances like that.
"It would have been brilliant to score. It would have capped off a great night to get on the scoresheet – and who knows what way the game would have gone if we had gone in front.But I won't be dwelling on it."