Brighton & Hove Albion under-21 captain Glen Rea admitted his surprise and delight after appearing twice for Republic of Ireland under-21s in Marbella.
Rea was called-up by Ireland coach Noel King for two international friendlies in Spain and was handed his debut when he completed 90 minutes in a 1-0 defeat against USA, before ending a dream week by scoring on his second appearance in a 2-2 draw with Russia.
The centre half, who has evolved into a holding midfielder this season for Albion, told seagulls.co.uk, “I was going there not expecting to play as much as I did, so when I saw my name on the team sheet, I was buzzing.
“It was just good to get both games and I was delighted to play in both.
“We were the better team against the US and we didn’t deserve to lose. We had a lot of chances and they didn’t seem to have too many but as a team they were better defensively.
“Russia had a bit more going forward and were trickier, so they were both testing games.
“The manager seemed happy with me and I was happy with how it all went.”
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Rea gave Ireland the lead after just five minutes against Russia when he fired home from Dylan Connolly’s cross at the second time of asking and the midfielder was also involved in the second goal when he picked up an assist, setting Connolly free to regain Ireland’s lead.
“I couldn’t have dreamed it. I was thinking, 'wow I’ve just scored'. It wasn’t just the goal, it was being a part of both games. It was a good trip all round and I enjoyed it.
“Obviously it’s a step up, but playing with Brighton under-21s this year has helped.
“You’re playing against international players at category one level, so it’s quite similar.”