Gavin Whyte dreams of making Northern Ireland bow at Windsor Park

Gavin Whyte  Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Gavin Whyte Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Gavin Whyte says it would ‘mean the world’ to him to be given the opportunity to play for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park.

The former Crusaders man, who made the switch to full time football with Oxford United, has many happy memories and a few goals in his locker there from his time in the Irish League.

“Playing at Windsor for Northern Ireland would mean the world to me,” he said.

“Windsor has been good to me, I’ve scored a few goals there and it would be a dream to play with the Northern Ireland lads there.

“I didn’t really expect a call-up this soon. I got the email to go on the Under-21 trip but my agent told me to keep the phone on because you never know.

“I got an email from David Currie to say I was in the squad and as soon as I saw that I rang my mum (Patricia) and she was over the moon.

“It’s been a crazy few months for me but the best ones as well.

“When I went to America I saw Whyte and the number seven on the back of the shirt and it was unbelievable.

“The tour helped me get the move in the summer. It was an amazing two weeks and the training was amazing.

“An injury prevented me from playing but I’d like to thank Michael for giving me that opportunity.”

After a slow start Whyte has forced his way into the starting line up at the Kassam Stadium and has three goals to his tally already.

“The start I had at Oxford wasn’t great because I wasn’t playing but I’m glad to be in the squad now and scoring goals,” he said. “My aim is to stay in the squad and keep doing that.

“It has been hard, my body didn’t take it very well. I was only training on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Crusaders but this is a whole different level.

“You have two games a week and training every day but this is all I wanted to do. I’m just about getting used to it but it’s been brilliant.

“I had a lot of interest from clubs but it was always about picking the right one with a chance of playing.

“If I went to Leeds I would have been training with the first team and playing with the Under-23s. I didn’t want to do that. I felt I was capable of going in at a high level and playing so I believe I made the right choice.

“I’m ready to progress now and I’m glad I didn’t go across when I was younger. I’m glad I matured in the Irish League, playing every week against big boys. It’s been really pleasing.”

Whyte, Bobby Burns and now Brad Lyons have all made the switch to full time football in recent months and the former Crues man believes it shows the quality that is in the local game.

“It shows you what the Irish league is capable of,” he said.

“There are good young players who just deserve a chance. If they are playing well for their clubs there is no reason why they shouldn’t be given that opportunity. It’s been a good experience for me and hopefully more get the chance.”