Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Glen Rea expressed his pride after being named Republic of Ireland under-21 captain for their recent friendly against an England C team at Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway.
The 20-year-old donned the skipper’s armband for the narrow 2-1 defeat and also played a full 90 minutes against the England under-21s at St George’s Park four days later.
He told seagulls.co.uk “When I went out there I wasn’t even expecting to even play, so to play in both games was unbelievable, especially against good opposition like the England C team and then the under-21s.
“The manager said I would be the captain for the first game, because a player had got injured and I was absolutely buzzing.
“I just did what I normally do and worked hard. Nothing really changed for me and it was a great honour to lead the team out that one time.
“I didn’t think we deserved to lose. They were strong and put themselves about, but we had more than enough chances to at least draw the game, but we’ll learn from it and move on.”
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The Irish then took on an England under-21 side that included Albion team-mate Jake Forster-Caskey, as Rea played the full 90 minutes once again.
Noel King’s team were beaten 3-1, but Rea relished the challenge of facing the likes of Danny Ings and Saido Berahino.
“The game against the under-21s was tough because they had some very talented players. When we went 3-0 down I thought it could be a long day, but we did well to keep them out after that.
“I played at centre half in the second game and Berahino and Ings played for them. It was an unreal experience to play against players like that, as their movement was so sharp and it’s another step up to what I’m used to. I thought I did well, but Berahino scored, so I wasn’t happy with that!
“It was good to come up against Jake as well and at international level you’re likely to come up against players that are at the same club as you.
“He has done well. I said hello to him and wished him all the best in the European Championships.”
Rea aims to stay involved in King’s squad for their European qualifiers this autumn and is now eager to make his first-team bow for Albion.
“We’ll see what happens, but hopefully I’ll be involved again.
“The manager said he was happy with what I’ve been doing. He’s a good manager and I take everything on board he says to try and make me a better player.
“I couldn’t have dreamed what has happened to me and I couldn’t wish for anything better. Obviously I want my debut for Brighton now and I hope that happens, but it’s felt like a dream since I first became involved with Ireland.”