Goalkeeper Stephen McMullan spoke to the media after he returned from international duty with the Northern Ireland Under-21s and talked about the joy it brought him after being recognised by his country.
McMullan, who recently stepped into the First Team goalkeeper spot after Jay Lynch’s ban, received his first Northern Ireland Under-21s call-up ahead of the window and made his debut against Luxembourg last Thursday.
This wasn’t all for the young goalkeeper during this call-up as he managed to gain another cap a few days later when they faced Ukraine in another EURO 2024 Qualifier on Tuesday evening for Tommy Wright’s side.
Here’s what Stephen had to say during his interview:
On his first Under-21s international call-up…
“It was a proud moment for me and my family when I first heard that I had been called up; I’ve been away with the previously with the Under-19s, but this was my first time stepping up to the Under-21s. It was a special one, I was happy to be called up and to start both games whilst out there was another big moment for me.
“It shows the progression I’ve had from only playing one game with the Under-19s to starting two games in a row for the Under-21s, playing a year up, so I enjoyed it and had a good time. This call-up holds significance for my family; I just treat each game the same and try to prepare the same way whether that’s at club or international level.
“The next stage would be to play for the first team, but first, I just want to get called up to the squad first. For a golden milestone, I think being on the pitch is the most important part, as you get the cap. I just need to build on my experience at the first-team level so I can get the trust of Michael [O’Neill], the first-team manager.”
On the group aspect there is in the Fleetwood squad…
“We’ve got a great group here in terms of the lads at Fleetwood, especially the goalie group, so it was just a no-brainer when I went away because we train so hard here, our environment we have at the training ground and the club as a whole is just different compared to other sides.
“When I went away, I had a feeling that if I just do what I’ve been doing at club level, I shouldn’t have any problems in starting here for Northern Ireland. I’ve worked with the two keepers who were also on the call-up at previous camps, so we all get on, and we keep in touch with each other even when we are back with our clubs.
“Goalies just stick together; we know what each other is facing and I feel like it’s a special group to be a part of. I’ve come back into the group today and I’ve been impressed with the work the new manager and staff have done so far, it’s a good environment which hasn’t changed much since the last manager, as it’s still a competitive and enjoyable place to be around.”
Supporters can watch the full interview with Stephen on our iFollow channel HERE!