Michael Obafemi ‘100 per cent committed to Ireland’
Southampton striker’s agency release statement on his commitment to international side
Republic of Ireland striker Michael Obafemi shares a laugh with assistant manager Roy Keane during training at Abbotstown. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
The agency that represents Southampton striker Michael Obafemi has put out a statement claiming that their client is totally committed to playing senior international football for the Republic of Ireland.
Playerworks CSM are reported to have taken action on foot of Martin O’Neill’s comments about the player on Wednesday and the social media reaction to his suggestion that the point at which Obamfemi would make a decision that would resolve his international future, was still “some way off”.
The suggestion was that while the 18-year-old striker, who was born to Nigerian parents in Dublin but left at an early age when the family moved to London, and who also qualifies to play for both Nigeria and England, might make an appearance against Northern Ireland this evening, but that he would not play any part against Denmark in Aarhus on Monday as that would “tie him down”.
CSM, however, say that, “as Michael’s representatives, we would like to go on record to say that we are not in talks with either Nigeria or England, nor is it something we have ever pursued.
“Since Mark O’Toole [a leading member of the FAI’s “Player ID” team in England] spotted Michael early on, he, along with the other staff at Ireland, have given Michael a great opportunity, which he has enjoyed immensely.
“Michael was born in Ireland, so this is the country he naturally wants to play for. Martin O’Neill has shown great faith in Michael and he wants to repay that faith by helping the team achieve success.
“Michael is 100 per cent committed to Ireland and is looking forward to an exciting future with the national team.”
Assuming it is confirmed by the player himself, the news will be welcomed by O’Neill, although it is not entirely clear how it came to be that the manager was under the impression at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday that the player was still in the process of weighing up his options.
It also remains to be seen whether it will change O’Neill’s outlook on the Denmark game. Obafemi has played underage football for the Republic of Ireland but has only a handful of first-team appearances under his belt for Southampton.
Still, the Ireland manager spoke warmly this week about how well the teenager had done in training and it might be that O’Neill, who had suggested the player might be capped if he had no reservations regarding his commitment, now opts to put at least one of these sagas to bed when he can.