City defender aims to use 'momentum' of Ireland emergence
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
After an unforgettable international break, Andrew Omobamidele is hoping he can use his Ireland momentum to push for a Premier League opportunity at Norwich City.
The 19-year-old central defender is yet to feature in the top flight since helping the Canaries to seal the Championship title and has seen Turkey centre-back Ozan Kabak arrive as fresh competition late in the transfer window.
After making his Republic debut as a first-half substitute during a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in Portugal last week, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored two late goals, Omobamidele's first start came in a 1-1 draw with Serbia in Dublin on Tuesday.
“It’s a huge lift. We didn’t win but it is a huge step. We showed that we could go toe to toe with these nations like Serbia and Portugal. It’s a huge step in the right direction," he said.
“Hopefully I can take my momentum and performances back to Norwich. I’ll keep my head down, keep training hard and we’ll see what happens.”
The draw, thanks to a comical late own goal, leaves the Irish hopes of World Cup qualification dangling by a thread but Omobamidele was alongside City team-mate Adam Idah as one of the youngsters being praised for their emergence.
“It’s one that I won’t forget,” the Canaries defender continued. “You can never get your first start in an Irish jersey back so before the game, I knew that I wanted to perform.
"It was my first time at the Aviva starting and playing. I’ve never experienced a crowd like it in my whole career. It is probably the highlight of my career so far.”
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Omobamidele was still playing for City's under-23s as recently as March but made his 10th senior appearance recently, playing all of the 6-0 thrashing of Bournemouth in the League Cup.
“I think the journey over the last couple of years shows how quickly football can change,” he continued. “It shows how fast opportunities can come and you just have to take them.
"At the start of the season last year, I was playing under-23’s football. And at the end of the season, I was going into one of the best sides in the Championship.
“I stepped into that, and Christmas came and I took my opportunity to play in the last 10 games to win promotion. It just shows how fast football can change and how you must be ready to take your chance.”
His memorable evening came close to an amazing climax when the defender strode forward and fired a 25-yard shot at goal deep into injury-time, only to see the Serbia keeper turn his effort behind for a corner.
"I was taking my jersey off already straight away after it left my boot," Omobamidele joked.
"To be fair to the keeper, he pulled off a good save, but I was ready to jump into the crowd."