Ireland's draw with Ukraine had a number of pleasing aspects.
Despite missing a number of first choice players, the team played on the front foot throughout the game. They pressed ferociously, kept the ball well, and defended strongly when called upon.
There was plenty in that performance that bodes well for the future, but there nothing more exciting than the performance of Nathan Collins.
The Burnley man put in a stunning display at both ends of the pitch. Not only did he defend brilliantly throughout the 90 minutes, he also produced a moment of immense quality at the other end of the pitch. The goal he scored is one we rarely see from an Ireland player, much less one who is more known for his defensive qualities.
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) June 14, 2022
This was the best performance of his international career to date, but it was far from his only impressive showing throughout this window. Playing every minute of all four fixtures, he has nailed down his place in the side moving forward.
Nathan Collins shows class in Ukraine interview
Collins has long been touted as a bright prospect, with many feeling he has the qualities to go to the very top of the game. Having only recently turned 21-years old, his potential seems limitless.
Speaking to RTÉ after the game, he certainly showed that he has the right mentality to become an elite player. Not only was he more concerned about the team than his own individual moment of brilliance, but he was also open in his aim to become the very best around.
'I want to be the best there is and I want to keep improving' - Player of the Match Nathan Collins speaks to @CorkTOD after a stellar display against Ukraine in Lodz, decorated by a stunning goal #rtesoccer #UKRvIRL #NationsLeague pic.twitter.com/CHylZ8be9z
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 14, 2022
I need time to watch [the goal] back and have a look at it. I just took it in the moment, took it in my stride, seen what was open and took it...
I said at the start after Armenia that it can be a good thing that we needed to bounce back. I got a bit of stick for it, but it showed with the reaction after the last two games how good of a squad we are. We know we still have a long way to go, but we know where we're going and we're on the right path...
I honestly don't know. It's annoying because if it was the last minute it would have been great, we would have got the win. We took a draw, but it's kind of frustrating. I would have gotten rid of the goal if we could have won, that's the main thing. We will take a draw, they’re a good team...
I just enjoy playing football, I like to have a bit of fun with it. I seen an opportunity and stepped into it...
It is what it is. I want to be out here for the long run, I want to be the best player I can be.
I set high standards for myself, I want to be the best there is. I want to keep improving.
An impressive young man.
Collins suffered relegation with Burnley during his debut season in the Premier League, although you suspect he will not be out of the Premier League for too long.
The defender has already been linked with moves to Newcastle United and Leeds United this summer, with his form at the end of the campaign certainly catching quite a few longing glances from elsewhere.
Performances such as the one tonight will certainly do his chances of earning a move no harm. As for his international prospects, we should get used to see him starring for Ireland. He will be around for quite a while yet.