PNE star thrilled at fulfilling Wembley dream

Alan Browne
Alan Browne
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Alan Browne was late to the party in terms of Preston North End’s promotion push but ended up fulfilling his dream of playing at Wembley.

The young Irishman spent much of the second half of the season watching from the stand as others got ahead of him in the midfield pecking order.

But a return to the squad opened up for him during last month’s play-offs, Browne back on the bench for the semi-final second leg against Chesterfield at Deepdale.

He replaced the injured Paul Gallagher in that game and did so again in the Wembley victory over Swindon.

In fact the 20-year-old played nearly an hour of the final, a calf injury having forced Gallagher out of the action.

Browne told the Evening Post: “To play in the final was an incredible feeling, it was always a dream of mine to play at Wembley.

“So the play-off final was a dream come true, just as it was for many of the other lads who hadn’t played there before.

“The atmosphere on board the coach on the way home was something I had never experienced before.

“Less than two years ago I was playing Under-19s football in Cork, so to have played at Wembley and won a promotion with Preston is unbelievable.

“I didn’t think I would get my chance so early in the final.

“At the time I didn’t realise that Gally was struggling with an injury, it was only when the gaffer told me to go and warm-up that I saw it was the case.

“While I was warming-up, I saw that Gally seemed to be limping a bit.

“I had replaced him in the previous game and unfortunately for him, he had to come off again.

“Credit to Gally, he still managed to set two goals up before he went off and that gave us some breathing space.

“In terms of being back in the squad, I didn’t expect that so late in the season with the team doing so well.

“I’d kept myself fit ready for if the chance came and fortunately it did.”

Browne admits it took him a little while to get used to the pace of the game at Wembley.

After all, he went from the end of January until part-way through May without any first-team action.

He said: “The pace seemed so fast when I first came on, it was tough to start with but I did adjust.

“The pitch was a bit sticky which surprised me, it was quite tough to run with the ball.

“In the second half I kept things simple, we didn’t want a slip to allow Swindon back in the game.

“To get the fourth goal when we did was brilliant and that settled it.”

Browne had a later start to his summer holidays than most of his PNE team-mates.

He played two games for Republic of Ireland’s Under-21 side earlier this month.

The first of those was against an England ‘C’ team and then they played England Under-21s in a behind closed doors contest at St George’s Park.

On the international front, Bailey Wright has joined up with Australia for a training camp in Dubai.