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22nd Jan 2018

Young Irish striker Michael Obafemi says Southampton debut was a ‘dream come true’

Matthew Gault

Michael Obafemi

The 17-year-old replaced Manolo Gabbiadini during the 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

Shane Long may not have featured for Southampton against Tottenham on Sunday, but teenager Michael Obafemi kept the Irish flag flying at St Mary’s.

The Ireland U19 striker became the second-youngest player to feature for Southampton in the Premier League (behind Luke Shaw) after replacing Manolo Gabbiadini in the 82nd-minute of the Saints’ 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Sunday.

Although he missed a gilt-edged chance to net the winner, Obafemi, born in Ireland to Nigerian parents said turning out for in a top-flight game was a ‘dream come true.’

“I am very thankful to all the staff and club for helping to make this happen,” he said.

“I came in yesterday thinking that I would be playing for the U18s. The manager stopped me and said that I would be training instead and would maybe be in the first-team squad; it was confirmed later on in the afternoon!” 

“I can’t stop here, this is just the start of what I hope is my career.” he concluded. “When the chance came, I should have used my left foot but I hope I will get another opportunity to prove I can make it at this level.

“I was nervous but the welcome from the supporters was brilliant and the senior guys told me to just relax and prove myself. I want to move on from here and keep working hard.”

With Obafemi eligible to play for Ireland, it would be refreshing to see him selected for the upcoming friendly against Turkey in March. West Ham defender Declan Rice, 19, is another youngster pushing for a senior international debut after making 13 league appearances for the Hammers this season.

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