ROTHERHAM United attacker Chiedozie Ogbene describes himself as "overwhelmed" after scoring his first goal in international football last night.
The Millers winger, the first Africa-born player ever to appear for the Republic of Ireland, was on target with a header in a 3-0 World Cup qualifying victory in Azerbaijan when he came on as a second-half substitute.
The 24-year-old was winning only his second cap as he leapt in the 90th minute to convert a corner.
"I'm overwhelmed," he said. "I owe it to the gaffer (Stephen Kenny) for believing in me. For him to believe in me and bring me on ... it was a special night for me and my family, and the team and the nation."
Ogbene, who has been in superb for Rotherham as they have climbed into the play-off places, is one of seven players League One players in the Republic squad after making his international bow from the bench in a friendly draw with Hungary in June.
"I believe in myself," he said. "I believe in my abilities and I guess that I haven’t come here by luck. The manager has watched me for many months and he obviously believes that my qualities are valuable to the team.
"It’s a lot different to club football. This is the highest level of football and it’s has always been a dream of mine to play internationally."
Ogbene is particularly delighted for his mum, Christina, who is now one of the best-known parents in Cork where the player was raised after the family moved from Lagos, Nigeria, when he was a child.
"She phones me after every game," he said. "She always wants to know how I'm feeling and if I'm healthy. After my first appearance in June she was in tears. I could hear the emotion in her voice.
"Parents take pride when their children do well. Where we come from in Cork a lot of people notice my mum and ask about her so she feels famous. I can see how happy it makes her."
Ogbene will always be grateful to dad Emmanuel who opted for a new life in Cork rather than Florida, in the United States, when he had job offers in both places.
"I’m reaping the rewards for being here," said the Millers man who has two brother and two sisters.
"I really enjoy the Irish culture and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why my father chose Ireland. He had worked with Irish people before and had really enjoyed it."
Cap number three for Ogbene could come tomorrow when the Republic are at home to Qatar in a friendly.