Evan Ferguson: ‘I’m going to bring my jersey back and give it to my Mam and Dad’

Ireland's Evan Ferguson celebrates his first goal for his country, becoming the youngest player to hit the net since Robbie Keane in 1998. Photo: Getty Images

Seán O'Connor

Ireland striker Evan Ferguson says his side will relish the visit of France next Monday after marking his first international start with a goal against Latvia.

The 18-year-old became Ireland’s youngest goalscorer since Robbie Keane in 1998 when he hit the net on 17 minutes, after Callum O’Dowda put Stephen Kenny’s side ahead in the friendly. Keane was two months younger than Ferguson when he scored his first goals against Malta in his fifth appearance.

Latvia pulled two goals back before the break, but substitute Chiedozie Ogbene found the winner, and Ferguson insists Ireland should not fear Les Blues in next week's opening Euro 2024 qualifier.

“I don’t think there is much better feeling than scoring at home with family and friends watching. There’s no other way to describe it. I'd have loved to get another goal,” said Ferguson afterwards.

"I think it just has to register with us what a good team France are. They are all good players, we just have to try our best. We’re probably going to have to double up on whatever we can see. But I don't think we should be too worried (about France).

The former Bohemians striker reflected on his full senior debut and says he's keeping his jersey for his parents.

“It’s a different level (than the Premier League). It means something different playing international. Every game, there is more on the line, so it just feels a bit different playing for your country.

“I’m going to bring my jersey back and give it to my Mam and Dad. They will probably stick it in a frame. They were here with family and friends."

On Tuesday, Kenny confirmed the Brighton striker would be starting against Latvia and Ferguson revealed the message the Ireland boss gave him before his maiden Aviva debut.

“Managers do it their own different way and you always have to prepare as if you are starting and see how it goes. I found out and just tried to be in my best frame of mind for it.

"He (Kenny) told me to just go out and enjoy it, don't feel any pressure, don't try to do anything you wouldn't be used to doing and just try and enjoy it.

“It was sort of similar to the positions I was picking up, when I play with Brighton, so it felt comfortable.

"I think if you get the opportunity you have to try your best. Hopefully we can continue with winning.”

Ferguson went down momentarily early in the second half after a challenge, but insists he will be fit and ready for Monday. “I felt it but I'm alright, it's going to be alright,” he said.

Asked whether he thought about Robbie Keane’s record beforehand, Ferguson added, “I don't think so. I think it's just to try and go on and think about the France game, and see if I can get another one.”