BY ANDREW EKEJIUBA
Promising West Ham United striker, Mipo Odubeko, has reportedly pledged his international allegiance to his country of birth, Republic of Ireland, over Nigeria, where his parents originally hail from.
The English Football Association was monitoring the eligibility of the Tallaght-born Odubeko, who relocated to Manchester with his parents in August 2015 on the invitation of Manchester City.
Reports revealed that Odubeko opted to represent the Republic of Ireland at international level after recent talks with U-21 manager, Jim Crawford.
Previously, he was reluctant to commit his international future to Ireland after he was excluded from the squad to the 2019 European U-17 Championship, and withdrew from a U-21 squad last March, claiming that he recently recovered from injury and had a busy schedule.
Eight months ago, Odubeko’s family wanted him to represent the Nigeria national team and the talented centre forward was open to picking the Super Eagles over the Three Lions and The Boys in Green, but it appears his head has been turned by the Football Association of Ireland.
The 19-year-old is back at parent club West Ham after struggling for games at Huddersfield Town, for whom he made six appearances off the bench in the first half of the season.
If Odubeko makes his competitive debut for Ireland’s senior team in future, he would follow in the footsteps of Adam Idah and Andrew Omobamidele (both Norwich City), Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham United) and Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City) who were eligible for Nigeria before playing cap-tying games for Ireland.