Eoin Sheahan was joined by Ireland’s promising young talent on OTB AM this morning to chat all things football including his recent struggles with injury, his path through the academy system, his idols in football, and his future Ireland career.
The Dublin born Southampton striker has played just one of Southampton’s last 11 games after a recurring hamstring injury, originally sustained in December against Manchester United, has kept him on the sidelines.
The young striker talked about how difficult it has been for him to bounce back from his hamstring strain, admitting that it was “a very low point” for him.
“I just found it hard. The whole process, the rehab and everything.”
“I didn’t know how to come to terms with it but the staff and everyone helped me.”
Michael tells us how he has been using his frustrating time off the pitch to positively adapt his game by watching and studying footage of some of the world’s top strikers.
“I’ve learned how to manage it off the pitch as well. Doing stuff like watching other players, other strikers and learning how to adapt my game when I come back”.
He cites the likes of Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Thierry Henry as strikers he would look up to and try to replicate in his career. It was no surprise, after mentioning three Gunners, when the young man who was raised in London admitted “apart from Southampton, Arsenal would be my team”.
Even as he works through his recent injury struggles, pride, confidence and ambition still exuded from the 18 year-old on this morning’s show as he talked about how it felt to become Southampton’s youngest ever Premier League goalscorer and his hopes of becoming the next great product of the notoriously successful Southampton academy system which Michael pointed out has launched the careers of the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.
His road to success hasn’t been as straight forward as that of some of the names he has mentioned as he talks about the heartbreak of being released from an academy at a young age.
Michael and his older brother Afolabi had been scouted at Watford when their wold’s were turned upside down as they were released .
“[Afolabi] didn’t get his scholarship there and then I got released at the same time”
“He went to Leyton Orient and I quit football for a year”
“After I got released I just felt a bit down”
Obafemi evidently bounced back from this and has now become Southampton’s youngest ever Premier League scorer making him a role model for any young footballer who is released, injured or knocked down in any way at an early age.
And now as he looks forward to his future, he has one big goal on his mind; “I definitely want to get back in a green shirt and represent my country”
With more Euro 2020 Qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar coming up in June, this too is what Ireland’s fans will be hoping to see.
Head over to our Youtube page to catch the entire interview with Eoin Sheahan on Thursday’s AM show.
By Iarla Muldoon