PROFILE: Irish defender's strong progress takes him to next level at City
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Andrew Omobamidele's steady progression in the youth ranks for club and country has been rewarded with a long-term contract - but the centre-back will know he is still at the start of his Norwich City story.
Omobamidele raised his profile when he captained Leixlip United's under-16s to national glory, winning the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland National Cup in May 2018. The following month it was announced that he'd signed scholarship terms with the Canaries and made the move over to England.
The Dublin-born defender swiftly established himself as a regular starter at U18 level for City during 2018-19 and at the end of the campaign he was representing Ireland in the European U17 Championship on home soil.
He played every minute of the group stages, scoring once, but successive 1-1 draws against Greece, Czech Republic and Belgium weren't enough to progress to the knockout stages.
That saw him elevated to the U19 squad for the European U19 Championship in Armenia a couple of months later, making a couple of appearances from the bench as the Irish were knocked out in the semi-finals by Portugal.
All of which contributed to the imposing centre-back being nominated for U17 Men's International Player of the Year in the 2019 Football Association of Ireland International Awards, being pipped to the prize by Manchester City prospect Joe Hodge.
His star was on the rise and he was soon a regular at U23 level for Norwich during 2019-20, rejoining the U18s for the FA Youth Cup and impressing alongside Jonathan Tomkinson in central defence as Newcastle were beaten 3-2 at Carrow Road in the third round - thanks to Josh Martin's superb hat-trick.
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He was needed at right-back in the next round, as a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United ended that campaign before the Covid-19 pandemic brought an end to youth football for the season in March.
However, for much of the current season Omobamidele has been training with the first team after impressing Daniel Farke, being named on the bench for eight games as injuries and the exit of Timm Klose have left minimal defensive cover at times.
He has remained a regular starter at U23 level though and his influence proved a big miss in the Papa John's Trophy, having played every minute of the group stages as victory over Plymouth and Newport sealed progression, only for first-team demands to keep him out of a 6-0 loss at MK Dons in the second round.
Calm on the ball and physically strong, Omobamidele has spoken previously of Holland and Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk being his idol. Now he's earned a long-term deal to keep trying to catch Farke's eye, with a loan spell potentially on the agenda at some point, particularly if City can bounce back to the Premier League.