STRIKER Rickie Lambert revealed he had fulfilled a lifelong dream after coming off the bench to score less than three minutes into his England debut to earn a thrilling 3-2 win over Scotland at Wembley.
The 31-year-old replaced Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney on 67 minutes and 165 seconds later headed defender Leighton Baines’s corner past goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
And Lambert, who was playing in England’s bottom division with Bristol Rovers only six years ago, was blown away by the fairytale end to his first week with the national team.
“I’ve been dreaming it that way all my life, it means so much,” said the striker, who hit 15 goals for Southampton last term.
“I was trying to play it cool this week as if it wasn’t bothering me, but deep down I wanted to scream, it was brilliant. The lads have made me feel very welcome and I’ve got a lot of respect for them all.”
Scotland took a surprise lead when goalkeeper Joe Hart fumbled James Morrison’s 25-yard strike into the bottom corner, but Theo Walcott levelled after latching on to Tom Cleverley’s excellent through pass.
The visitors regained the lead shortly after half-time when striker Kenny Miller sidestepped defender Gary Cahill and fired in, but Danny Welbeck headed in captain Steven Gerrard’s deep free-kick to level, before Lambert pounced for the winner.
“He’s been so enthusiastic since he’s joined us, like a young boy with a new toy,” said manager Roy Hodgson.
“He’s worked very hard for this chance. I’m delighted for him.
“He’s a very good player and has great composure in front of goal. I’m happy for him and happy his goal gave us the victory.