Mipo Odubeko Looks Ready To Make Up For Lost Time In An Ireland Jersey

By Gary Connaughton

While there were a number of positives from Ireland's 3-0 victory over Bosnia is & Herzegovina in their Euro qualifier on Friday evening, few were more significant than seeing Mipo Odubeko find the back in a green (or in this case orange) jersey.

The 19-year old has somewhat of a complicated history when it comes to international football.

Born and raised in Tallaght, he is one of the most talented forward produced in this country in quite some time. His goalscoring exploits in the Manchester United youth setup were extraordinary, with the player then deciding to join West Ham in 2020.

He featured for Ireland at a couple of different age groups, although doubts soon emerged about his international future. It was rumoured that both England and Nigeria were keen on getting him to switch allegiances, while the player himself was said to have been hugely frustrated by the decision to exclude him from the Irish squad for the U17 Euros on home soil back in 2019.

As a result, he stepped away from the international football for a couple of years.

Jim Crawford has always been keen to bring him into his U21 setup, ultimately getting him to commit to the cause earlier this year. His goal on Friday will hopefully be the first of many at both underage and senior level for the Boys in Green.

It was quite the occasion for Odubeko. Not only was it his first goal for Ireland, but he scored it in a stadium only down the road from where he grew up.

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Speaking after the game, the Tallaght native said he couldn't have picked a better venue to get off the mark for his country.

I’m buzzing. We got the three points and I managed to get myself a goal and assist.

The next focus is on Monday because every game counts. We can’t afford to take anything less than three points, you know...

I’m from down the road. I grew up in Swiftbrook.

I used to come down to the stadium here with my big brother and watch Shamrock Rovers. I watched the 21s a couple of times a few years ago. To be here now makes me very happy...

There were loads of people here that I grew up with. Obviously my family were here, and to see all the kids here..

I remember growing up and coming to the stadium asking for signatures and pictures. So to see them cheering me on, I’m very happy.

The striker even threw up a 'T' sign in recognition of the moment.

With a couple of games still to go as this Ireland team chase history, Odubeko will be hoping for a strong end to what has been a difficult season.

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The teenager got his first real taste of men's football during the campaign, joining Huddersfield Town on loan last summer. However, he found playing time hard to come by as the side unexpectedly competed at the top end of the Championship, making only six appearance in the league before having the move cut short on January.

He would then join Doncaster Rovers on another temporary switch. Odubeko experienced a bit more success with the League One club, featuring 16 times in the league and scoring a couple of goals along the way.

Despite the bumps along the way, he admitted he wouldn't change his recent experiences for anything. He is also delighted to now be working alongside Jim Crawford, who he has known since his early years as a youngster at St Joseph's.

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You have to get different experiences. You have to be open to different experiences, because they help you to grow, whether they are good or bad.

I’ve had a tough couple of experiences over the last 12 months. But they are experiences that have helped me grow and I think I have managed to grow very quickly.

I feel like I’m not the same kid I was a year ago, and I am very happy about that. I’m just looking forward to the future.

That’s my first goal for Ireland, and to get that at Tallaght.. I’m buzzing. I’m very happy and I feel like we have a good group.

I’ve known Jim [Crawford] since I was a kid when I was 10. He has taken me into the squad very well and I can’t thank him enough. He’s a great manager, and I am very happy with what he has done with me.

Attention will now turn towards tomorrow's game against Montenegro, where a win would put Ireland on the verge of securing at least a play-off place for next summer's Euros.

Odubeko will be hoping to have a big impact on the game yet again. After all, he does have some lost time to make up for on the international stage...

SEE ALSO: Jim Crawford Sums Up Why Euro Qualification Would Be So Special For Ireland U21s

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