THERE were few prouder people in Windsor Park on Tuesday night when Gavin Whyte opened his international goalscoring account than Jim Magilton.

The former Oxford United midfielder gave Whyte his under-21 debut for Northern Ireland in 2015 and has watched the winger’s progress with interest ever since.

And while the circumstances – just 106 seconds after coming on for his debut against Israel – were unusual, Magilton was not surprised to see the 22-year-old could cut it.

Now the elite performance director at the Irish Football Association in Belfast, he said: “Gavin was always an outstanding young player.

“He was a very quiet, unassuming lad off the pitch, but when he crossed the white line he came alive.

“I had no hesitation in playing him.

“I was absolutely delighted to see him score. You couldn’t have written the script any better than that.

“Everyone who knows him over here is thrilled for him.”

There are parallels between the pair, with Magilton’s senior debut for Northern Ireland coming when he was at United.

The elegant midfielder went on to win 18 caps before leaving, which remains a club record.

But Magilton, who clocked up 52 international appearances in total, believes Whyte could easily overtake him.

He said: “Without any shadow of a doubt he can break that.

“There’s a manager (Michael O’Neill) who has shown great belief in him. If he continues to play for Oxford like that I see no reason why he couldn’t.

“I always thought he could have a career in England, it was just down to whether he believed he could.”

And while Magilton is confident Whyte will go on to play at a higher level, his mature approach means for the moment the winger’s head is unlikely to be turned easily.

He said: “From what I know of him he will be really dedicated to doing well at Oxford.

“I know Karl Robinson has a wonderful CV with bringing players through. I thought it was a lovely fit for him.”