England goal all I've dreamt about says former Weston loanee Watkins
- Credit: PA
Ollie Watkins said scoring his first goal for England was all he had ever dreamt about after finding the back of the net in a 5-0 victory over San Marino at Wembley on Thursday.
Watkins came off the bench in the 63rd minute for Dominic Calvert Lewin to make his international debut, before opening his account when Jesse Lingard's pass found Phil Foden and the Manchester City midfielder found the 25-year-old forward on the edge of the area.
Aston Villa's Watkins was then able to compose himself before shooting through Dante Rossi's legs and across Elia Benedettini and into the bottom-left hand corner of the net.
"Unbelievable, (It's) what I have dreamt about," Watkins told ITV.
"All day in the hotel I was just thinking that I hope to get a chance to come on, enjoy it and get the opportunity to score. I'm speechless to be honest."
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Watkins was playing non-league football six years ago for Weston, where he scored 10 goals in 25 appearances on loan from Exeter City before returning to the Grecians and establishing himself in the starting line-up the season after.
But it was at the Seagulls where current Villa manager Dean Smith first saw Watkins and he took him to Brentford, where he finished as the Championship's top goalscorer in 2019-20 and picked up the league's Player of the Year award.
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He then joined Premier League new boys Villa where he has made an impact in his first campaign in the top flight.
Watkins has scored 10 goals in 28 Premier League matches, and 12 in 31 games in all competitions, at 252 minutes per goal - quicker than the likes of Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane.
"It's been a good journey, I just feel honoured that I can come out here and get the chance to pull on the shirt and play with the players I am playing with and even score on my debut, you couldn't write it, I am over the moon to be honest," he added.
Southampton's James Ward-Prowse opened the scoring for England with his first international goal from Ben Chilwell's pass before Everton's Calvert-Lewin headed his first from Reece James' cross.
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling, captaining England on the night, drilled in the third ater being played in by Mason Mount, following Rossi's mistake, to make it 3-0 at the break.
Calvert-Lewin then side-footed home his second from Lingard's low cross across the face of goal early in the second half, but the final word belonged to Watkins after he came on for the Everton forward just after the hour and scored with his first shot on goal.
Watkins became Villa's first goalscoring debutant since Darius Vassell in February 2002 against the Netherlands, as England started their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a comfortable win.
Gareth Southgate celebrated managing his 50th game of the national side - becoming the first man to reach half a century of matches as player and manager - and was full of praise for Watkins.
"The first thing you saw was the reaction from the rest of the team. That shows you how together they are. They know what it means for him. He's settled in really quickly with the group," he told ITV.
"He's a really humble boy and it was nice to be able to give him half an hour or so. For him to get a goal is fairytale isn't it?"
When asked if he felt under pressure when he came on, Watkins said: "No, I didn't put that pressure on myself, I just wanted to get on the pitch for a start. I didn't even know I was going to come on.
"Connor (Coady) had a head clash there and I thought I might not get the opportunity to come on tonight. I have and I just can't believe it really and I am grateful to have got that opportunity to play here.
"I'm going to take each game as it comes, focus on my club form, play consistently for Aston Villa, score for them, help the team push up the table and hopefully get into Europe and take it from there."
England are due to visit Albania for their second qualifier on Sunday (5pm) and return to Wembley to host Poland on Wednesday (7.45pm).