Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says everyone is delighted for Rickie Lambert
It is every young football fan's dream – to make your international debut against your fiercest rivals and score the winning goal with your very first touch.
That dream became a reality for Rickie Lambert on Wednesday night, and England winger and former Southampton team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says it is no more than he deserves.
Speaking after the 3-2 victory against Scotland he said: "Everyone was absolutely delighted for him, especially me obviously knowing him from Southampton and knowing how much he did for me coming through there.
"To see the way he’s progressed in his career, coming up through the leagues, he’s such a nice guy and such a humble man, so to see him get that goal tonight was unbelievable and I’m over the moon for him, as I’m sure everyone involved in England and Southampton and his family will be absolutely buzzing for him."
Oxlade-Chamberlain also emphasised the importance of starting the new campaign with a win, pointing out that the game was far from an average friendly and that Lambert’s contribution could not be underestimated.
"That’s what football is all about, fixtures like that.
"To get the momentum of winning games can’t harm you at all. All the boys in the England dressing room will tell you the same thing; to get into that mentality just as the season is about to start is always good, and that’s what we all want to get used to.
"Tonight was really important, we wanted to win so for Lambert to come on and score that goal was absolutely brilliant – it was what we needed, and he popped up and scored when we needed him most."
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who turns 20 today, made 36 appearances for Southampton between 2010-11, and remembers Lambert's positive influence on him during his early days in professional football. "He was always encouraging me," he recalled.
"The big thing about coming into a first team environment when you’re a young lad is that when you make a mistake and straight away you think the older pros are going to be looking down on you, but every time I tried something and it didn’t come off, he just really encouraged me and made sure I kept on trying.
"To have that sort of support around you - it really spurs you on and it fills you with confidence – just having that belief in yourself and knowing that your team-mates do as well, it really helps you.
"So for me, coming through at Southampton, players like Rickie Lambert really did help me."
Despite Thursday being his 20th birthday, the Arsenal winger – who faces a busy start to the club season with his side meeting Aston Villa on Saturday, before flying to Turkey for a potentially tricky UEFA Champions League qualifier against Fenerbaçhe, said he has too much on his plate to worry about birthday celebrations.
"I need to focus; I’m delighted to have won tonight but I’m not celebrating anything though, nothing at all. We’ve got too many matches.
"Football is the main thing – as long as we’re winning I’ll be happy."