Davide Casentini

Praise for Festy Ebosele after making full Serie A debut

The Wexford defender started Udinese’s 0-0 draw away to Atalanta.

LAST UPDATE | 6 Mar 2023

UDINESE MANAGER ANDREA Sottil reserved words of praise for Irish U21 international Festy Ebosele after the defender’s full Serie A debut on Saturday. 

Ebosele made his first start since joining the club from Derby County last summer in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Atalanta, having made six prior appearances off the bench.

He played 81 minutes at right wing-back as Udinese became only the fifth team this season to keep a clean-sheet against free-scoring Atalanta, who notably hit Salernitana for eight at the start of the year. 

“It’s a big point, first of all for the league table but also because of the quality of the opposition we faced today,” said Udinese boss Sottil.

“The team showed a great sense of responsibility after the last game. Credit to the lads for their focus and desire not to concede. We defended superbly as a team and created situations going forward too. Now we must maintain this attitude and remember that every ball is important in Serie A.

“Festy [Ebosele] did really well. It’s not at all easy to make your full debut in Bergamo. We know how difficult, intense and physical Serie A is. He held his position well, had some good moments and will only get better. I’m sure he’ll be a great player for Udinese’s future.” 

The point lifts Udinese to ninth – three points behind Juventus – and further stalls a refreshed Atalanta’s Champions League challenge: they are now sixth, five points off fourth-placed Roma. 

Ebosele has been previously called up to Stephen Kenny’s senior Irish squad, though has yet to make his debut.  First choice in the Irish pecking order at right wing-back is Matt Doherty, who finally made his debut for Atletico Madrid in the closing minutes of the 6-1 hammering of Sevilla on Saturday. 

First-choice right-back Nahuel Molina was suspended for the game, but in his absence manager Diego Simeone decided to switch to a back three and play Marcos Llorente at right wing-back, before introducing Doherty for the final 12 minutes. 

That Doherty played so little in the brief absence of his direct rival is a concern as to how much gametime he will clock ahead of Ireland’s Euro 2024 qualifier at home to France at the end of this month. 

“Matt’s situation was very unusual”, Kenny said this week. “The strong fitness regimen at Spurs suited him. He needs that. When you’re given the opportunity of joining Atletico, you grasp it. Matt needs games and we are hoping he gets games, because he has been very good for us and he is an important player.”

In making his brief appearance, Doherty made history in becoming the first Irishman to pay for Atletico Madrid. 

That he did so hours after Ebosele made an appearance for Udinese meant that Irish players appeared in La Liga and Serie A on the same day for the first time since February 1987, when Liam Liam Brady started for Ascoli against Empoli and Liam Buckley came off the bench for Racing Santander against Valladolid. 


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