IT’S been a long time coming, but Andy Dorman’s first taste of life as an international footballer has left him hungry for a second shot at winning his first Wales cap.
The 27-year-old from Hawarden watched on from the substitutes’ bench as Arsenal wonderkid Aaron Ramsey inspired John Toshack’s side to a 3-0 victory over Scotland in Saturday’s friendly between the two home nations at Cardiff City Stadium.
Although Dorman did not make it on to the pitch, a week training alongside the likes of Ramsey, Gareth Bale and fellow Flintshire Schoolboys graduate Wayne Hennessey has made the St Mirren midfielder even more determined to make his mark with his ‘adopted’ country.
“It was great to be involved and it was a great result for the lads,” said Dorman, speaking to the Chronicle on his way back up to Scotland.
“It was good week, I really enjoyed the training and it gave me the chance to see exactly what it’s like to be involved in an international set-up.
“It was a really proud moment for me because I never thought it would happen, and now that I’ve had a taste of it I want to get back in the next squad and force my way in to getting some minutes on the pitch.
“The only way I’m going to do that is by playing well for St Mirren, so that’s the only thing I’ve got to worry about for now.”
In being named in the Wales squad for the first time in his career, Chester-born Dorman benefited from a new FIFA ruling which allows players to represent a country in which they have had five years of compulsory education.
Dorman, whose parents Dennis and Lynne are English, played for Wales Schoolboys while a student at Hawarden High School, but his lack of Welsh ancestry meant he had all but given up hope of representing Wales at international level.
While the new ruling will now allow him to do that, it is the form he has shown at St Mirren that has propelled him from being the country’s best-kept secret into a potential team-mate to Ramsey in the Welsh engine room.
Having signed for the Buddies in January of last year after a highly-successful four-year stint in Major League Soccer with New England Revolution, Dorman has wowed fans north of the border with his goalscoring exploits from the middle of the park.
He was the Paisley club’s joint top-scorer with 12 goals last season, a return which earned him a place on the shortlist for the Scottish Premier League’s Player of the Year award and also brought the reported interest of Scotland’s big two, Celtic and Rangers, as well as a host of Championship clubs including Swansea City when former Chester City midfielder and now Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez was in charge at the Liberty Stadium.
“It’s gone well since I came back from America and now I’m hopefully looking forward to an international future and a good future at club level as well,” said Dorman, who was drafted by the Revolution after graduating from Boston University with a degree in human geography.
“I’m enjoying every minute of it up here and it’s definitely helping my career. Hopefully it continues.”
Dorman, now boasting a Scottish accent, admits he has a job on his hands to break into the Wales midfield given the likes of Ramsey, Jack Collison, Joe Ledley and Simon Davies are ahead of him in the pecking order – not to mention the crop of exciting Under 21s starlets pushing hard for a place in Toshack’s plans.
“Aaron is a really talented player and it was great to see him get a goal to cap off a great performance on Saturday,” said Dorman, who was selected by Toshack after the Wales manager received a glowing scouting report from his number two, former Liverpool boss Roy Evans.
“There are a lot of good players in the squad, especially in midfield, so I’m going to have to play really well to get in the squad again.”
Dorman is now readying himself for a big three weeks with St Mirren which will see him take on three of the current SPL top four in Hibernian, Celtic and Dundee United.
“We’ve got some big games coming up on the back of playing Rangers at Ibrox before the international break,” said Dorman, who has found the net twice so far this season and has helped the mid-table Buddies to a Scottish League Cup semi-final showdown with Hearts.
“It’s a hard run, especially going to Parkhead but Hibs is the first game and that’s all we’re concentrating on.”
One step at a time, it’s a mantra which has served Dorman well so far – and it’s one he not going to stop repeating now.