Thursday 22 February 2018

Schoolboy Gorman enjoys dream start to North career

Ken Gaunt

Sheffield-born rookie Johnny Gorman knew after his first game he wanted to play for Northern Ireland and no-one else. The 17-year-old midfielder is now committed to the cause after making his competitive bow in the superb 1-0 victory against Slovenia in Maribor on Friday night.

Gorman, who attends Repton School and Wolves Academy, came on in the closing minutes of the Euro 2012 qualifier. It was his fourth cap -- he is eligible as his mother was born in Coleraine -- the previous three came in friendlies.

"When I made my first appearance there was a lot of talk about going to the Republic or that I could still play for England," said Gorman. "But since I made my first appearance, my mind was made up. I wanted to stay with Northern Ireland. As all my family are from the north it was an easy choice."

Northern Ireland's winner came in the 70th minute from substitute Corry Evans, the Manchester United midfielder sweeping the ball home at the far post after being set up by Craig Cathcart on his debut.

That prompted wild celebrations on the pitch and on the bench but Gorman was left in the dark.

"I was called over by Nigel Worthington who told me to watch Brunty (Chris Brunt) and see what he was doing. As soon as he said that, we scored. I didn't see it as I wasn't concentrating on the game. I turned around and the ball went in. It took a lot of pressure off us as well."

Gorman, who replaced Brunt, added: "I enjoyed getting on and it was a good victory for us. With it being a qualifier it was a big step up for me, so even to play a small part is a big achievement. For the team to win is all you can ask for. It is a great start to the campaign and hopefully we can carry it on."

Cathcart, who joined Blackpool in the summer from Manchester United, savoured the moment when Evans scored. "It was the first time I got over the half-way line," he said. "I cut it back and crossed it into a dangerous area so it was nice to see Corry poke it in. I only found out on the morning of the game that I would be starting but once I got into the pace of it I did okay.

"I got a few important nicks of the ball in but there were many of us who threw their bodies in the way. It was that sort of performance."

Meanwhile Gorman had little time to bask in the glow of a victory that will put Northern Ireland in good heart when Italy visit Windsor Park next month.

He was due to return to school 24 hours after the game, explaining: "We have a meeting and then practice on Monday."

Wolves also have a reserve game in midweek and Gorman said: "Hopefully I will be involved."

Sunday Independent

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