Football

Michael Obafemi: I had no intention playing for Nigeria

Michael Obafemi has insisted that he had no intention of declaring for Nigeria before signing with the Republic of Ireland.

The Southampton striker – out for the season with a hamstring injury – made his Irish debut in Martin O’Neill’s last game in charge in November.

And that substitute appearance away to Denmark in the Nations League means he is tied to Ireland.

Dublin-born, the 18-year-old only spent “a couple of weeks” here as a newborn before moving to England where he was raised in London.

But while Declan Rice laboured over his international intentions before siding with England, Obafemi was eager to nail his colours to the mast.

“I saw that and was laughing, it’s just funny,” he said. “I don’t want to speak bad on it but it’s crap. I didn’t really pay attention to (Rice’s situation) as I didn’t think it was a big issue. The media made a bigger issue than it was. I always knew I’d play for Ireland. It was the only one out the three.

“I played for Ireland from U17s upwards and I didn’t see the need to change. This is where I was born and where I should stay.”

England never approached Obafemi as a youth – but would have been told where to go.

“Even if they did, I don’t think I’d have gone anyway,” added Obafemi.

“My Mum is supportive of my decision, my brother, everyone is supportive. They asked what I wanted to do, I said what I wanted to do and they stuck by me. I was just happy to make my debut and get a full cap. It was a great day.”

And Obafemi continued: “I was born in Dublin, my mum was visiting her sisters. I think I moved back to London a couple of weeks later, where I grew up. I didn’t stay too long but when I come here, I still feel like I’m home.”

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