Eunan O'Kane made his international debut against Switzerland on Friday, and was naturally extremely proud of the occasion:
Thank you to everyone for all the messages. So proud to have made my debut. Hopefully it will be the first of many.☘ pic.twitter.com/OdnEFK8wh4
— Eunan O'Kane (@eunan10) March 25, 2016
His pride is totally warranted, judging by the extraordinary perseverance he has shown to get as far as he has; a level of tenacity that an excellent article in today's Irish News by Cahir O'Kane has thrown light upon.
At the age of fifteen, O'Kane made a decision to turn his back on a promising Gaelic football career to take a chance across the water with a move to Everton. As he told his namesake:
For years, I had tried to juggle the two but when I turned 15, I realised that I was going to have to choose because one was holding the other back and the soccer was suffering because of that. I’ll only get one chance at this and I can go back to the Gaelic when I’m older.
The move sadly went awry. Everton released him in 2008, believing him to be too small. O'Kane then returned to Ireland, where he played football with Coleraine. He faced a dilemma common to young Irish footballers who fail to make the grade in England as teenagers as Cahir O'Kane writes that "Eunan O’Kane’s career could have gone the way of so many hundreds of young lads from Ireland. Go across the water, get a taste of the good life and then find it ripped away from you. Almost all of them end up back at their roots, either playing grassroots soccer or GAA".
Instead, O'Kane showed an impressive level of tenacity. He impressed consistently with Coleraine, and at nineteen he earned a second shot at English football with Torquay United. O'Kane continued to showcase his talent with the south coast club. A move to neighbouring club Bournemouth followed in 2012, who were then in League One. O'Kane has been part of every step of Bournemouth's meteoric rise to the comfort of the middle of the Premier League table. Now, with regular top-flight football under his belt and an international cap in hand, O'Kane is in the mix for a place at the European Championships.
It is a tribute to O'Kane's remarkable tenacity.
We suggest that you read the excellent piece in full here.