Gavin Whyte says his mother Patricia missed him scoring with his first touch on his Northern Ireland debut – because she was on holiday.
The Oxford United player, 22, scored 106 seconds after coming off the bench in a 3-0 friendly win over Israel.
Steven Davis and Stuart Dallas scored Northern Ireland’s other goals.
“My mum will be over the moon. She is on holiday and I think she was travelling so I will have to send her the highlights,” said Whyte.
“She is in the United States, but she sent me a text to wish me good luck.”
‘This goal means everything’
Whyte’s goal – in the 67th minute – came after Israel goalkeeper Guy Haimou had saved Conor Washington’s initial effort.
It caps a remarkable rise to prominence for a player who made the move to full-time football with Oxford after winning the Irish Premiership title in three of the past four seasons with Belfast club Crusaders.
“”The goal means everything to me,” he said. “The ball came out to me and the only thing I could do was hit it quickly.
“The last few months have been amazing. It’s all happened really quickly since I moved from Crusaders and I’m really enjoying my time at Oxford.
“I’ve got a taste for international football now and I want more.”
Whyte, who won the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards last season, has scored three goals in six appearances for Oxford.
‘He’s quicker and stronger’
Whyte, an under-21 international, was called up to the senior squad for the summer tour to Central America but did not feature against Panama or Costa Rica.
And Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has noticed an improvement in the Belfast man since his move to Oxford.
“I’m delighted for him getting his goal,” O’Neill said.
“Gavin has looked stronger and quicker, and has made a real impact in training with the squad this week.
“We’ve watched him for a few years now and I was hoping he would get the opportunity to move into full-time football.
“Wide players who can score goals are a real threat and Gavin is very effective at getting into positions and scoring.”