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'You recognised his talent from day one' - Rovers captain Finn backs Inter-bound Zefi for international cap

15-year-old Kevin Zefi is expected to seal a move from Shamrock Rovers to Inter Milan next month.

SHAMROCK ROVERS CAPTAIN Ronan Finn has backed Inter Milan-bound Kevin Zefi for a future senior international career. 

Zefi is still just 15 but played frequently in the League of Ireland First Division for Shamrock Rovers II last year, in which he became the league’s youngest-ever goalscorer. The teenager – born in Ireland to Albanian parents – has been subject to interest from clubs across Europe, and is set to join Inter Milan when he turns 16 next month. Fifa transfer rules allow Zefi to join another club within the EU from the age of 16; the finer print of Brexit barred him from moving to a club in the UK until he turned 18. 

Source: CSNFootballVideos/YouTube

Zefi is a wide attacker, and has featured prominently for the Republic of Ireland U15s. 

Finn is part of Rovers’ U15s coaching set-up, and says Zefi has the talent to go all the way to senior international level. 

“From day one, you recognised his talent. He has unbelievable technical ability, but there’s more to football than just technical ability. You need to have the appetite, you need to have the hunger, and the work rate. Kevin has so many things going for him. 

“He has been involved with us and has come in to [train with] the first team. We had to treat him as a man, we couldn’t be dancing around him. This is the environment he will be in, so if he wants to be a professional footballer, he has to learn. 

“He did really well and played a lot for the First Division team. But you just don’t know, do you: it’s hard to say exactly how far a player will go, hopefully he stays injury free. But football is a very difficult industry and at an international powerhouse like Inter Milan, the competition will be very high.

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“But if Kevin backs himself, looks after himself, believes in himself and keeps his feet on the ground, then who knows? Hopefully we will have a future international.” 

With the Brexit ruling blocking the traditional pathway for young Irish footballers to the UK, Finn believes Irish football may be subject to a lot more notice from continental clubs in the future. 

“It could open a door. I know Jack [Byrne] played in Holland, and he really enjoyed the style of football and the quality of opposition. It’s something Irish and UK players traditionally don’t do, but if it goes well for Kevin more European clubs may realise, ‘There’s a market in Ireland we can tap into’ it could open a door.” 

Unlike Gavin Bazunu – for whom Rovers earned a €500,000 transfer fee – Zefi has not signed a professional deal with Rovers, so they and his schoolboy club St Kevin’s Boys will not receive a transfer fee from Inter Milan, but instead a relatively meagre compensation fee under Fifa rules. 

“I suppose, it’s a frustration from the board and the manager”, said Finn on the reality. “As a player, you want the club to make as much as they can. For Kevin, all of us players would wish him the very best of luck. He has a real chance but he has to work hard and make the most of his opportunities. 

“He’s a great lad and I wish him the best of luck.”

 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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