Finlay Cross-Adair said he was over the moon to make his professional debut for his boyhood club Preston North End, but stressed that the hard work is still to come.
The 17-year-old forward, a lifelong Lilywhites supported who has progressed through the club’s Academy ranks, came off the bench for the final seven minutes of normal time in Saturday’s game against Stoke City at Deepdale.
While North End were on the wrong end of the result on this occasion, those final moments remained special to Fin as he made his bow in professional football.
Speaking to iFollow PNE post-match, he said: “I was over the moon, I was buzzing with it. My childhood club, I’ve dreamed of that since I ever signed for Preston when I was 10.
“To come on at Deepdale as well, it’s just not really sunk in yet and I’m not just saying that. It was pretty class, yeah.
“I’ve supported the club my whole life, my dad is North End mad, my family. I signed for the club when I was 10, I was U10s, and I’ve been here ever since.
“The last year or two has been a bit more difficult to go on and see away games with me being full-time and having games with the youth team on a Saturday.
“Before that, I was at every game pretty much, especially the big ones, I was always at them. To come on here it was class.
“It was good, it would have been a bit better if we were winning the game, but it was still surreal.”
The youngster has been training with the first team squad for a number of weeks, having been called in to Euxton during the international break.
“It’s been really good, it’s been top class ever since I’ve come up,” he continued, speaking of his time with the first team so far. “I’ve been training with them for the last two weeks now.
“I got called in during the international break due to numbers and I’d like to say that I’ve taken my chance and I’ve done well.
“The gaffer has put me on the bench, I only found out this morning that I was involved in the squad, I was meant to be playing at Bolton [for the youth team]! I found out this morning, I was buzzing.
“Then he rang me about an hour before kick-off and said, ‘Finn, you’re on the bench.’ I was nervous but I was buzzing, I was pleased with that.”
Asked for his thoughts as he ran onto the pitch for the first team, he added: “I was just thinking, ‘You know what, we’re 2-0 down, I’ve got nothing to lose.’ He just said to me to get in and around the box, get my shots away. I came on and it was brilliant.
“Today was brilliant but hopefully there’s many more to come and hopefully I can stick with the squad, still be in and around the squad, and just keep going. I’ve achieved nothing yet, just keep going.”
Memorable moments though they were, Fin’s attentions will quickly turn away from his debut, as he and the rest of the squad look ahead to a trip to Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night.
“I’ve grown up watching the Championship, watching North End, and in the Championship, you win some and you lose some, anyone can beat anyone really. It was a tough game today but I’m sure we’ll bounce back.
“We’re in tomorrow and we’ll debrief the game, but there’s games week in, week out to put things right. Hopefully we can go away to Huddersfield on Tuesday and put things right there.”
Watch more from Fin on iFollow PNE.