England U19 hat-trick hero Jordon Ibe says he is delighted to have notched his first international treble - and even happier to help get the Young Lions' qualifying campaign off to a winning start.
The 18-year-old Liverpool forward was the star of the show as the U19s got their Elite Round of qualifying under way with a stunning 6-0 victory over Montenegro at Walsall.
Speaking directly after the game, he told TheFA.com: “I feel really happy to have helped the team do so well in the first game.
“To get a hat-trick makes it even more special. It was a great feeling and I feel really good to be going back to St. George’s Park with the match ball.”
England 6-0 Montenegro
UEFA U19 Euro 2014 Qualifying
Saturday 24 May
Banks's Stadium, Walsall
England are hosting the mini-tournament and began their campaign against Montenegro at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium.
Also drawn in Group 1 alongside England are Scotland and Ukraine. Only the group winners progress to the Finals in Hungary in July – and with the next two games coming in quick succession, the significance of hitting the ground running was not lost on Ibe.
“Before the game and all week in training the manager has been emphasising how vital it is to win the first game in a tournament like this,” he added.
“When you have three games in such a short period of time it’s so important to get off to a winning start - so to get all three points and for the team to score six today was fantastic.
“All the games are quite near each other but we just need to prepare ourselves well, make sure we do our recoveries after each match and make sure we’re ready for the next one – hopefully we can fly again against Scotland on Monday.”
“It’s my first ever hat-trick for England so it’s something I will always remember”
Next up for England will be Scotland at Burton on Monday – just over 48 hours after the final whistle blew on the first game.
But Ibe insisted he will be ready to go again when matchday two arrives.
“I feel really good in myself – it’s great to get another 90 minutes after the season has finished to keep the momentum going. And obviously to get a hat-trick as well, I’m feeling great right now.
"It’s quite rare for me to play two games so close together to each other because I don’t usually play in tournaments.
“But to come away for England to this – after being with the squad in the previous round in Slovenia – is good experience for me and hopefully I can continue to do well.”
And what of his match ball, that he proudly clasped all the way back from the ground to the team hotel? It will be pride of place in his home, the youngster said.
“I’m going to get all the players to sign it and take it home for me.
“It’s my first ever hat-trick for England so it’s something I will always remember.”
Next fixture: England v Scotland at Burton Albion
When: 7.30pm, Monday 26 May
Tickets: £3 adults, £1.50 concessions