Gerrard and AOC applaud Lambert's fairytale rise

Fairytale finish: Rickie Lambert has earned the admiration of his fellow professionals. Photo: PA

England captain Steven Gerrard believes Rickie Lambert's fairytale story from lower league journeyman to Wembley hero shows aspiring youngsters that anything is possible.

Lambert, a 31-year-old former Blackpool, Macclesfield, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers striker made his debut in the 67th minute against Scotland last night, replacing Wayne Rooney, and, three minutes later with his first touch, headed the decisive goal in the 3-2 win.

"Rickie's a great example to young kids," Gerrard said.

"Any young kid watching, who is starting at the bottom, you've just got to believe and work hard.

"You can work all the way up to the top, make your debut and score for England.

"It's a fantastic story."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played alongside Lambert, who spent the early part of his career at a beetroot factory as he tried to earn a professional contract, at Southampton before moving to Arsenal.

"I'm absolutely delighted for Lambo," Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

"When I was at Southampton with him I was a young lad coming through, I remember how good he was to me and all the encouragement he gave towards me.

"The way his career has gone and the way he's worked up, he's such a humble man.

"He's the nicest bloke in the world. If anyone deserved that, Rickie Lambert deserved it. I was absolutely delighted for him."

Another former Saints forward anticipates Lambert can be a hit for England in future.

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott said: "When you come up the leagues it's so difficult.

"He's showed he can do it in the Premier League week in, week out.

"He's a different target for us. I think he's going to cause a lot of defenders a lot of havoc this season, for England as well.

"If he scores like that, it's something to look forward to."

Lambert savoured the moment and vowed to strive for more of them in international football.

"If that's the only moment I'm going to have in an England shirt - hopefully not - I couldn't have wished for it to have been any better," Lambert said.

"That's my first one. I'm going to try to make it more in the future. Definitely."

He added: "It was my first touch. It's probably the best header I've headed in my life.

"I saved it for the right time. It was a terrific ball by Bainesey, I managed to lose my marker and he put it exactly where I wanted it.

"I've dreamt for it to go like that for a long time and for it to have gone like that was a dream come true."

Walcott scored England's first goal, cancelling out James Morrison's opener, but suffered a blow before coming off in the second half.

He is optimistic of facing Aston Villa on Saturday, though.

Walcott added: "I had to come off with a little bit of a swollen knee.

"Fingers crossed. I'm going to rest my leg and hopefully it will be okay."

Walcott hopes to have an impact for Arsenal this term, now competitive action begins in earnest.

He added: "Everyone dreads pre-season. This is the most important time and this is a big year for Arsenal."