Ireland legend urges City striker not to be disheartened

Conor Hourihane of Swansea City consoles Adam Idah of Norwich City at full time during the Sky Bet C

Norwich striker Adam Idah is consoled by Ireland team-mate Conor Hourihane after a recent 2-0 Championship defeat at Swansea - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Republic of Ireland legend Niall Quinn has urged Norwich City prospect Adam Idah not to be disheartened by his difficult start to life on the international stage - and urged him to study England star Harry Kane.

The big Dubliner was Ireland's record goal-scorer with 21 goals from 92 international games prior to being overtaken by Robbie Keane in 2004, playing at the 1990 and 2002 World Cups.

Idah, who turned 20 last week, picked up five senior caps earlier this season having excelled at youth levels for his country. As manager Stephen Kenny was elevated from the U21s he has set about trying to bring through a new generation, but the Canaries forward failed to score during a difficult start for the new regime - losing their European Championship play-off in Slovakia on penalties.

“Idah will be a player I hope - with being in and around the team, with Stephen having faith in him - that he starts to get streetwise as a centre forward this year," Quinn said.

“Coming in and having all that raw ability is fine, I hope for his sake that it does happen. I spoke about myself playing at Arsenal (at the start of his career), raw as could be, but you get cuter — it’s self-confidence, a goal here or there makes you cuter.”

Idah's rapid elevation has been criticised by some in the Irish media but he also had the disruption of a false-positive Covid-19 test causing him to miss the play-off in Slovakia and then an injury during a 1-0 loss in Wales in the Nations League in November, with foot and knee problems keeping him out of contention at Norwich for two months.

The speedy attacker has scored four goals in 27 games in total for City since making his debut in August 2019, returning as a substitute in the last four Championship games. 

“I would say, on the sports psychology side, that they retain their belief, that they don’t listen to old pundits having a go at them because they miss a chance or whatever," Quinn continued, speaking to the Irish Examiner about Ireland's young prospects in his role as a pundit for Virgin Media Sport.

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"As I say, I got a bit of a rude awakening by looking back at my early efforts at Arsenal. It’s a tough journey. I would say watch the better players.

"I’d ask Idah, if I saw him, to have a look at Harry Kane. Don’t be afraid to look at people like that, study them. On a day off, when crowds come back next year, go and watch him live, focus on him the whole game.

“Watching on telly is one thing. I can remember Arsenal sent me to Spurs-Man United as a young player and they told me to watch Mark Hughes. I watched him and I remember ringing (Leeds legend) John Giles once for advice. He gave me great advice at the time, as a centre forward, where to go off the ball.”

Republic of Ireland's Adam Idah (left) and England's Harry Maguire battle for the ball during the in

Canaries striker Adam Idah, left, started at Wembley in November as Ireland were beaten 3-0 by England in a friendly - Credit: PA Wire

Quinn was a physical top-level force for Manchester City and Sunderland throughout the 90s, retiring in 2003 but going on to become chairman of Sunderland in 2006, also having a brief spell as manager of the Black Cats.

“I get frustrated at times watching centre forwards play these days, how they are attracted to the ball," he added. "The false nine has come in. Our academies have made our players become so technically good in that they are interested in the ball, they want to do nice things around the box and bring other players into the play.

“But sometimes you need more to your game than that. I’d love young players to look at what Harry Kane does as a cross comes in, what Alan Shearer used to do, that first movement to make the space to get your half a yard and you have half a chance of scoring.

“How much work he puts in to give himself a better chance. That’s old-fashioned, but wouldn’t it be useful if people had both as a centre forward?”

Idah signed a new contract just before Christmas, committing to City until 2024. Ireland have World Cup qualifiers against Serbia and Luxembourg during the March international break, as well as a home friendly against Qatar.

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