Ian McKinley has thanked Italy for giving him a 'second chance at life' after he made his debut for the national side during Saturday's 19-10 win over Fiji.
McKinley, 27, who retired from rugby seven years ago after an on-pitch incident resulted in him losing sight in his left eye, was drafted into Conor O'Shea's squad for the autumn Tests following a series of standout displays in the PRO14.
The Treviso fly-half, who returned to the professional game with Zebre in 2015 sporting protective goggles, replaced Carlo Canna in the 61st minute before converting a penalty to help Italy end a nine match losing streak.
Following his international bow, the former Leinster playmaker took to Instagram Sunday to reflect on the experience.
11.11.17 è una data che non dimenticherò mai. Il percorso è stato incredibile ma le persone in questa foto mi hanno aiutato a farcela. Circondati di belle persone e belle cose succederanno. Indossare la maglia dell'Italia significa tutto per me. L'Italia mi ha dato una seconda occasione nella vita e per questo le sarò sempre grato. Grazie a tutti quelli che hanno trovato il tempo per mandarmi un messaggio. Lo apprezzo davvero tanto. 11.11.17 is a date I will never forget. The journey has been incredible and the people in this photo have helped me make this happen.Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen.To wear the Italian jersey means everything to me.Italy has given me a second chance in life and I will be forever grateful for that. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send me a message.I really really appreciate it #leonorsorugby #rugbyviadana #zebre #benetton #italrugby #678
"11.11.17 is a date I will never forget," McKinley wrote, alongside an image of him with his family after the final whistle. "The journey has been incredible and the people in this photo have helped me make this happen.
"Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen.
"To wear the Italian jersey means everything to me," he continued. "Italy has given me a second chance in life and I will be forever grateful for that."