Football

Ireland Face Pressure To Hold Onto 17-Year Old Michael Obafemi

Ireland Face Pressure To Hold Onto 17-Year Old Michael Obafemi

At 17-years old, Southampton's Michael Obafemi gave Ireland fans reasons to be cheerful yesterday afternoon. Having made his Premier League breakthrough largely due to the absence of Shane Long, Obafemi's international future is not quite as secure as it seems.

Born in Ireland to Nigerian parents, Obafemi and his family have spent the majority of the young forward's life living in London. A product of the Leyton Orient academy system, Obafemi's move to Southampton in 2016 brought about the player's involvement with Ireland's underage sides.

When he became Southampton's second-youngest Premier League debutante yesterday afternoon against Tottenham Hotspur, a spurned chance to seal a precious win for the Saints didn't take away from what was a positive debut.

With the natural thought process of most Irish football fans turning to the moment when this young, exciting forward will be ready to make his senior breakthrough, reports today would suggest that Ireland may have to imagine life without Obafemi.

Anyone who heard Obafemi speak to Southampton's in-house media in the wake of his debut yesterday will have scarcely missed the young forward's London accent. However, it is not England that are courting his services just yet.

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Sure to be on the cusp of the Irish U-21 side if he keeps going in the direction he is moving, it is Obafemi's paternal links that may bind tightest of all. Nigeria, who have qualified for this year's World Cup, are likely to be as eager as Ireland to secure the services of a young, Premier League striker.

With another stint of underage duty for Ireland scheduled in for March, the involvement of Obafemi in those fixtures could perhaps convince him to stay on his current international trajectory.

A dynamic forward the like of which Ireland scarcely have access to at the moment, Obafemi would signify a massive coup for the association. Still early days granted, it is some time since Ireland have had a genuinely exciting young prospect playing Premier League football.

See Also: Southampton Manager Praises 17-Year-Old Irish Striker After Making Premier League Debut

Arthur James O'Dea

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