By Jacob Panons
Ahead of Saturday's match against Aston Villa, Brighton striker Aaron Connolly has enjoyed a crazy two weeks, following his first Premier League goals and an international debut for the Republic of Ireland.
Connolly, 19, scored twice on his first start in the top division as Brighton thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at the Amex at the beginning of the month, a game which led to his international call up.
Connolly was awarded his first cap for Ireland as he came off the bench in a goalless draw in Georgia on Saturday. The youngster came within inches of scoring in the dying minutes of the game after he broke through but his shot skewed just wide of the near post.
He didn’t have to wait long for his first start for the senior team as he played up-front alongside James Collins three days later in a 2-0 loss away in Switzerland with club teammate Shane Duffy scoring an own-goal.
When talking about his international debut the Irishman said: “I can’t really describe it. It was a great moment for my family and everyone that helped me. It’s definitely the proudest moment I’ve had, and it’s a great feeling.
“My mum and dad were in Istanbul late last night, and I got a text saying they wouldn’t be in Georgia until five in the morning. It would’ve been nice to reward their late night with a goal, but they’ll be proud to see me come onto the pitch. I love making them proud and it was a great moment.
“The manager didn’t mention if I would play or not, I just trained this week and got in and around the squad. He never really told me that I was going to come on, but I’m glad I did.”
On the topic of his late chance in Georgia, the striker said: “I’ll probably have a sleepless one after that chance, and at 0-0 in an international game like that, you’ve got to score that.
“The ball just wouldn’t come down for me, and it’s gutting when I think that I could’ve helped the boys. But it’s a good result and performance.”
The start of Connolly’s whirlwind season came back in August as the striker came off the bench for Albion away at reigning champions Manchester City in a 4-0 loss.
He said: “Playing in the Premier League is what I have been working for since I came to Brighton, so to walk out and play in the game at Man City was a big honour for me, my family, and everyone that’s been involved both club wise and back home as well.
“The game gave me a good chance to see the level that’s required if I wanted to play in the Premier League. To play against one of the best teams in Europe on my debut was mad, but a good learning curve to start my career."
Connolly will be looking to add to his brace from Brighton’s last game as the Seagull’s make the trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.