WHEN Kieran Richardson scored after four minutes of his international debut, the roar from south-east London could be heard thousands of miles away in Chicago's Soldier Field Stadium.

Richardson's father Clive, who still lives in the Lewisham area, had made the trip to the States, but most of the rest of his friends and family had stayed at home to watch on television as the 20-year-old took his international bow.

And what a debut it turned out to be, with Richardson scoring both goals one a curling free-kick from 20 yards out in England's 2-1 win.

Richardson senior said: "It was certainly my proudest moment as a father to see him pulling on an England shirt, and probably the highlight of Kieran's career so far.

"Helping keep West Brom in the Premier League was obviously a massive achievement but playing for your country is the ultimate, and to get two goals was just unbelievable."

Richardson, who attended St James Hatcham in New Cross, has a habit of scoring on his debut, having done so for Bexleyheath-based side Samuel Montague FC and on his senior debut for Manchester United, aged just 17, in a pre-season friendly with Chesterfield.

But Richardson subsequently struggled to make an impact in Manchester, and was farmed out on loan to West Brom when Bryan Robson took charge mid-season.

Playing in an unaccustomed central midfield role Richardson, a keen artist in his spare time, orchestrated the Midlands' club's revival, and was largely responsible for them surviving the drop by a single point at the expense of Crystal Palace.

It was his performances in blue and white that brought Richardson to the attention of the England manager, who initially put him on stand-by for his 20-man squad for the two-game tour of America.

Richardson was promoted to the squad following the withdrawal of Shaun Wright-Phillips, and then to the first team after Stewart Downing broke down in training with a knee injury.

Richardson senior said: "Of course you would never wish injury on any player, but one man's misfortune is another's gain, and Kieran certainly took full advantage of the chance that came his way.

"I didn't think the team played especially well and I've seen Kieran have better matches, but you can't do much more than to score two goals."

Despite largely having West Brom to thank for his elevated status Richardson has no plans to return to Robson's outfit next season, having set his heart on gaining a regular place at Manchester United.

"Kieran's been with United since he was 14," added his father, "so the club's in his heart and I don't think he could bear to leave. At first we didn't want him to go, because it's a long way from home, but once we saw the set-up we were confident he'd made the right choice.

"It's a been a long, hard road but he's finally getting there. He's waited this long, so he's prepared to be patient and bide his time Ryan Giggs must only have a couple of years left in his legs, after all.

"But the important thing now is Kieran's got back his self-belief and confidence, so there could be no stopping him."