City prospect's surprise at Irish call up
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City centre back Andrew Omobamidele has labelled his Republic of Ireland selection ‘overwhelming’.
The teenager’s whirlwind start to his professional career brought a late season run in the Canaries’ Championship title win and promotion to the Premier League.
Now he is preparing for a first taste of senior international football, after being named in Stephen Kenny’s squad for friendlies against Andorra and Hungary.
Omobamidele revealed he was caught by surprise when he got the phone call from Kenny.
“It was a bit overwhelming as I didn't know the number and when I said 'who is this' he said ‘it’s Stephen Kenny’,” recounted the youngster. “He said I had been selected and to enjoy the moment.
"I've just come off the back of a really good time with Norwich, lifting the trophy and being promoted and hopefully I can take that into the camp and be successful there.
“It’s a really proud moment for me and my family and Leixlip as a community. Being born and raised in Ireland it's a dream to be playing with the senior team and a very proud moment for me and my family.”
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The 18-year-old underlined his temperament as much as his talent when he was pitched into a full Championship debut at Preston on Good Friday.
Omobamidele retained his place over the club's title run in, alongside captain Grant Hanley, with Ben Gibson and Christoph Zimmermann ruled out through injury.
“At the start of the season, I was in Norwich’s Under-23s. By the end of the season I was winning promotion with the first-team and lifting the trophy,” he said, speaking to the Irish Daily Mirror. “It took me two or three weeks in the first-team to get used to the tempo as the boys are top quality and if you're in the middle of a rondo you're not getting the ball back.
“But I'm just taking it step-by-step and trying my best to take it all in my stride.
“I've good people around me like my Mum and old coaches at Leixlip United to keep me grounded.”
Irish Under-21s chief, Jim Crawford, is confident the Canaries’ prospect will take the international step up in his stride after working with him earlier in the season.
“I’ve been watching Andrew a long time now and he’s a fantastic talent, an excellent centre-half,” he said. “We played him as the left-sided centre-half against Wales (under-21s) because he’s comfortable with both feet, he’s confident stepping into the game, his decision-making on the ball has always been excellent with Norwich whether it’s been under-18s or under-23s and now Norwich’s first team.
“I knew what we were getting coming into camp, he’s an excellent player.
"But I got to know him when he was in camp and he’s also a fantastic person, hard working, wants to learn and I was really impressed with him.”