Matt Doherty makes La Liga history for Atlético Madrid
Boldly going where no Irishman has gone before.
Ireland defender Matt Doherty made La Liga history last night by becoming the first Irishman to line out for one of Spain's 'Big Three' clubs.
Replacing right back Marcos Llorente in the second half for Atlético Madrid in their league clash against Sevilla, the 31-year-old became the first Irish international to ever feature for one of Atléti, Barcelona or Real Madrid.
The game, which ended in a procession-like 6-1 victory for the Madrid side, sees them climb to third in the table, back above high-flying Real Sociedad.
For Doherty, the debut was a first chance to impress his new head coach Diego Simeone following his January transfer move from Tottenham Hotspur.
Initially signing a short-term 6 month contract at the La Liga side, the former Wolves full back has had to make do with being an onlooker from the bench up until last night, given the talent and form of regular right back and Spain international, Marcus Llorente.
Matt Doherty hoping for more game-time:
In making his maiden La Liga appearance, Doherty joins a select club of Irish international players to have played in Spain's top flight, with the most recent one's being Ian Harte's mid-2000's stint at Levante and former Liverpool defender Steve Finnan's sojourn at Espanyol.
The 33-time capped right back will be hoping to see an increase in playing time over the coming weeks, as Stephen Kenny gets set to select his first squad of the 2024 European Championship qualifying campaign, with the Boys in Green meeting World Cup finalists France in their opening fixture.
Potentially lining up against the likes of Kylian Mbappé, Kingsley Coman and Ousmane Dembele at the Aviva Stadium in just under three weeks time, facing off against the abundance of wide talent in La Liga could serve as a needed confidence boost for both Doherty and Ireland.
The Atlético Madrid defender was not the only Irish right back making history last night on the continent though, with former Bray Wanders youth product Festy Ebosele starting his first Italian Serie A game for Udinese.
The 20-year-old Ireland youth international signed for the Italian side from Derby last summer, and has gone on to make six substitute appearances. However, a suspension paved the way for Ebosele to make his first start in a 0-0 draw against Champions League regulars Atalanta.
Yet another right back option for Stephen Kenny to choose from, the Wexford-native will be hoping to earn a first senior international cap in the upcoming friendly against Latvia on March 22nd.
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