Nathaniel Ferris took another major step forward in his development on Saturday with a first-team debut.
The 17-year-old striker joined Portadown’s Danske Bank Premiership defeat to Coleraine as a substitute with a sparkling cameo.
The Northern Ireland Schoolboys under 18s’ international enjoyed an impressive first appearance on the senior stage as part of Pat McGibbon’s opening game as interim Ports boss.
It proved the perfect finale to a day which started with Ferris cheering on Portadown thirds that morning at Kernan Playing Fields.
“I was told about my call-up during the week so it was nerve-wrecking waiting to get on in front of a large crowd and everything,” said Ferris. “Once out on the pitch I just wanted to prove a point and focus on the match.
“Plus it was great to have my family in the crowd.”
Ferris scored four goals across two games on tour for Northern Ireland Schoolboys, plus started the opening Centenary Shield tie with Scotland then scored against England as a substitute.
“I had never met the manager until getting called up for that first session but everyone has been so supportive,” said Ferris. “It was also great working with Vinny Arkins and you can see in the shooting drills he still has that finishing touch.
“This season has been going so well and I just want to keep on working hard and making the most of every opportunity.”