There were 67 minutes on the clock and the score was already 3-0 at Wembley when Mason Mount was informed by Gareth Southgate that he would be the 1,243rd international to wear the famous Three Lions of the England national team.
In doing so, Mount became the fourth Chelsea Academy graduate to debut for England in the last two years, following in the footsteps of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Yet this was a deeply personal moment for a young man who has spent the vast majority of his formative years dreaming of playing on the biggest stages for club and country, and the 20-year-old reflected afterwards on his special achievement.
‘It’s an unbelievable feeling to make your debut for your country,’ commented Mount. ‘It’s something that you dream of as a little kid.’
‘I think the percentage of people that do it are very slim but I’ve been working hard for a long time and obviously it’s a proud moment for me and my family.’
England made it three wins from three in qualification for the 2020 European Championships, with the fourth goal netted by Harry Kane just seven minutes after Mount’s introduction against Bulgaria. However, the midfielder admitted he took the moment in his stride, never fazed or over-awed by any occasion, always simplifying the task at hand.
‘I wasn’t really too nervous,’ he said. ‘It’s a game of football so it’s something that I’ve done all my life. When you come on, you just want to get on the ball, have your first touch, get that out the way and then try to influence the game.
‘It’s been a crazy last couple of months. Making my debut for Chelsea, then being called up to the England squad and making my debut today. It has been a blur.’
Southgate was seen waiting for Mount in the mouth of the Wembley tunnel after the full-time whistle and greeted his latest debutant with a warm embrace.
‘He just said congratulations for making your debut and well done,’ explained Mason.
‘All the boys came up to me after the game in the dressing room saying well done. You can feel how tight the group is, we’re a young group but we’re fired up to win games and learn.’
Next up for England is another home qualifier against Kosovo, which will be played at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, just 20 miles down the road from Mount’s hometown of Portsmouth.