Southampton striker Michael Obafemi has ended the speculation over his international future by revealing he is ‘100 per cent committed’ to Republic of Ireland.
The highly-rated 18-year-old has been training with Martin O’Neill’s squad here in Dublin this week and could make his debut during Thursday night’s friendly against Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
However, O’Neill said on Wednesday that Dublin-born Obafemi – who is also eligible for England and Nigeria – would not travel with the squad to Denmark for Monday’s Nations League fixture, where a cap would confirm his allegiance, as he needed more time to consider his future.
That led to criticism of the teenager from those who believe players should not play for Ireland without being fully committed. Former Ireland winger Kevin Kilbane tweeted: ‘Look but you can’t touch! Anyone else want a trial run?’.
But the agency which represents Obafemi, Playerworks CSM, released a statement on Thursday.
‘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,’ it read.
‘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.’