Tim Allen says his dramatic debut for Ballymena United was exactly the reason why he wanted to play football in Europe.
The Australian goalkeeper made himself an instant hero with United supporters with a string of fine saves in Saturday’s Irish Cup win over Cliftonville which laid the platform for David Cushley’s goalscoring heroics at the other end of the pitch.
“I still let in a goal so it’s not the absolute dream debut but it was great fun,” smiled the 22-year-old.
“Coming from overseas you always hear about European football and British football in particular.
“That game was everything you hear about - fast, end-to-end, passion - so it was great to be out there.
“That’s the life of a goalkeeper. I made two hashes in the first half and they could have been easily put away and I wouldn’t be sitting here now talking about it.
“I was just thrilled to get the win in the cup match - everybody saw how much it meant to our fans at the end.”
Having completed the protracted transfer, manager Glenn Ferguson had no hesitation in pitching the giant keeper into the cauldron of a crucial Irish Cup tie against the league champions.
“He started to give a few hints away on Thursday night at training but I wasn’t too sure if I would play.
“I’ve had to learn about 100 names in the past month and I needed to learn quickly - I’ve managed to get the names of my back four and that’s all I really need right now!
“The save I tipped onto the post was probably my favourite save because no-one thinks I actually saved it - I had to convince a few of the coaches that I actually touched it!
“My parents are originally Irish and they moved to Australia just before I was born, about 23 years ago. I grew up there, played all my soccer there and then I went to college in America.
“After that I decided I wanted to keep playing so I came over to Ireland. I was in touch with Dermot O’Neill. I didn’t know too much about it until I got a phone call from Glenn.”
O’Neill’s last goalkeeping recommendation, Aaron Shanahan, played a key role in United’s run to last year’s Irish Cup final and Allen is hoping for similar success.
“That’s the dream, certainly. It’s pretty much our season right now. We can still do things in the league but cup finals are more fun!
“I want to get to the top level I can - I don’t care where that is. If I peak out here, that’s how it happens but I just want to keep pushing myself,” added Tim.