On Saturday, 18-year old Ireland striker Michael Obafemi made his first Premier League start for Southampton in their game against Manchester United.
Obafemi was handed his first league start by now departed manager Mark Hughes and impressed many in the 65 minutes he featured in before coming off injured.
The Dublin born attacker was lively up against United’s defence and his tremendous hold-up play and awareness helped him set up Stuart Armstrong for the Saints’ opener.
Last month, former Irish manager Martin O’Neill called up Obafemi for games against Northern Ireland and Denmark and after the England and Nigeria eligible striker confirmed his commitment to the Boys in Green, he was handed his first cap in the Nations League draw in Aarhus.
Speaking to reporters at the convention centre in Dublin following the Euro 2020 qualification draw, current manager Mick McCarthy outlined that we may look back in the future on O’Neill’s decision to give Obafemi his first cap as a very smart one.
“I said it the other night, we were discussing it when he made his debut and Martin brought him on, I said we might be looking down the line and lauding Martin O’Neill for doing that because there are not that many strikers around in the Premier League, and a young one.”
McCarthy also explained that although he did not see Obafemi’s first Premier League start he had heard that the 18-year old was very impressive leading the Saints’ line.
“He played well yesterday, apparently,” began McCarthy.
“I didn’t see the game — I was doing other things here. I’m delighted. I hope he stays in the team and develops into a Premier League footballer that I can pick in March.”
Ireland were handed a decidedly favourable draw on Sunday after a technicality meant that as a host nation, they avoided the apparent group of death containing both Holland and Germany.
The Boys in Green will play Switzerland, Denmark, Georgia and Gibraltar in Group D as McCarthy looks to bring the good times back to a side that suffered an abysmal 2018 – winning just one game over the 12 months.
McCarthy begins his second spell in charge with an away game against Gibraltar on March 23rd.