It was impossible to wipe the beaming smile off the face of Derby County striker Morgan Whittaker after he scored his first-ever career goal on Wednesday.
The striker came off the bench to score his goal at first-team level as Derby ran out 3-1 winners at Birmingham City in their final Sky Bet Championship fixture of the 2019/20 season.
Whittaker’s goal came with three minutes of normal time remaining, with the scoreline locked at 1-1, as he found the net with a diving header after home goalkeeper Lee Camp kept out his initial shot.
The 19-year-old also had time to set up fellow Academy graduate Louie Sibley to round off the scoring in added time.
Whittaker, so prolific at Under-18 and Under-23 level, has had to be patient in finding the net at senior level.
His goal came in his 21st outing of the season, although it should be noted he has made only three starts in what has been his breakthrough campaign.
Whittaker is now keen to use the shorter than normal close season to recharge his batteries and come back firing on all cylinders for the 2020/21 campaign.
The frontman, the fifth Academy product to score for Derby at senior level in 2019/20, hopes his goal will be the first of many in Rams colours.
“I think the goal has been a long time coming, but I’ve just said to myself after each game that I need to keep going and I couldn’t be more delighted to score the goal on the last day of the season,” Whittaker told RamsTV.
“I think it sets myself up nicely going into next season. I’ll have a break now and then get back at it.
“I just want to keep going now. I think it’s nice to recharge, especially after the busy schedule, and then be back in a few weeks.”
He added: “I will definitely look more forward to more; I have just got to use this and push on now. I cannot dwell on it too much, but I need to use it for confidence next season. I will reflect on the season; however the next season is the most important one.”
Whittaker scored 24 goals from 37 appearances for Derby’s Under-18 and Under-23 teams combined last term, while he also claimed 16 assists, taking his goal contributions to 40.
He has, however, admitted that his heading is an area which he has been keen to improve on.
Reviewing his goal against Birmingham, the frontman felt it was ironic he found the back of the net with his head.
“I just saw the goalkeeper save the first shot and then I threw my head at it,” he said.
“The amount of times in training we have worked on heading has been a lot – and funnily enough my first goal is from a header!”
Whittaker, one of six Academy players to make their professional debuts this season, signed a new deal with Derby back in January until the summer of 2023.