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Dublin: 19 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020

Proud Obafemi 'never had any doubts' about representing Ireland

The 18-year-old Southampton striker made his senior international debut last night against Denmark.

Paul Dollery reports from Aarhus, Denmark

MICHAEL OBAFEMI WAS grinning from to ear to ear as he made his way towards the media mixed zone in the aftermath of his senior international debut.

Instead of shoving his shirt into his bag after last night’s goalless draw with Denmark, it was still draped around his shoulders by the time he headed for the team bus outside Ceres Park.

Michael Obafemi hugs his mother Bola after the game Michael Obafemi embraces his mother, Bola, after playing for Ireland against Denmark last night. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “I’ll be getting this shirt framed to put it in my house. Obviously my career is still young but this is definitely a major moment in it.”

Obafemi’s introduction at the expense of Callum O’Dowda in the 80th minute put an end to any uncertainty about his allegiance as an international footballer.

It also saw him become the first player born in this millennium to win a senior cap for Ireland. Obafemi turned 18 in July.

Born in Dublin to Nigerian parents, the Southampton striker was raised in London. While there were several possibilities, he insists that he was never likely to turn his back on Ireland. 

“There was no doubt in my head about playing for Ireland,” he said. “I’ve already represented Ireland in youth ages. I never had any doubts at all.”

Obafemi’s international future was a major talking point in the press and on social media last week, but the teenager says he didn’t pay attention to any of it.

“I like to keep myself to myself. It wasn’t hard to block it out. I knew what I wanted to do so it didn’t matter to me. You can’t control what other people do.” 

Denmark’s dominance of last night’s game restricted Obafemi’s scope to make an impression, but he did show some good touches when he was able to get involved.

“I enjoyed it. I’d like to have had a couple of better touches, but it happens. Hopefully I’ll get some more minutes in the next games so I can show what I can do.”

As for his ambitions with Ireland, Obafemi said: “Hopefully I can be playing for years to come. I’m still young. I want to get as many caps as possible, score goals if I can, and just keep enjoying it.”

He added: “It’s an amazing feeling to get my first cap for my country. I’m very proud tonight, absolutely buzzing.” 

Originally published at 06.20

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Paul Dollery

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