Michael Obafemi: Southampton forward proud to make Republic debut

Michael Obafemi and his mother Bola
Michael Obafemi hugs his mother Bola after the game in Denmark

Michael Obafemi has set his sights on winning many more caps for the Republic of Ireland following his senior debut.

The Southampton striker won his first cap when he came off the bench in the Nations League draw against Denmark.

The 18-year-old could have chosen to play for Nigeria or England but is now committed to representing the Republic.

"It's an amazing feeling to get my first cap for my country. I'm very proud tonight, absolutely buzzing," said Obafemi.

"I'll be getting this shirt framed to put it in my house. Obviously my career is still young, but this is definitely a major moment in it.

"Hopefully I can be playing for years to come. I'm still young. I want to get as many caps as possible, score goals if I can and just keep enjoying it."

The teenager ended speculation over his international future last week by pledging his commitment to the Republic after parallels had been drawn between him and West Ham defender Declan Rice, who continues to consider the possibility of switching allegiance to represent England.

"There was no doubt in my head about playing for Ireland. I've represented Ireland in youth ages. I never had any doubts at all," added Obafemi.

The Dublin-born forward, who moved with his Nigerians parents to London when he was young, was introduced in the 80th minute of the scoreless draw in Aarhus and he will hope to play a bigger role in the Republic's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, which begins next March.

Manager Martin O'Neill has told Obafemi that he will need to play more first-team football Southampton as he continues his development.

"He had made the commitment anyway that he wanted to play and whether it was going to be tonight or some other evening, he's got a lot to do, a lot to do. I think he realises that himself," said O'Neill.

"We'll see what the next couple of months brings. I think Shane Long is out for a little while - I'm talking really about his club form - and he's hoping to get some time.

"Obviously he has to fight for that and he has to earn that, but that would be nice if that's the case.

"In terms of international football, it's lovely for him to get on. I think his mum was here again tonight and that's very, very pleasing. But I think he knows himself he has plenty to do."

Obafemi became the 12th Republic player to make his debut this year as O'Neill continues to add to his squad options.

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