THE announcement of Stephen Kenny’s Ireland squad for the upcoming Nations League fixtures in June was greeted with celebration in more than one household across Enniscorthy today (Wednesday). For those reading on Slaneyside, one name jumped out immediately – Festy Ebosele.
Having started out at Moyne Rangers, the Enniscorthy man has rapidly moved through the ranks before going on to impress at Derby County under two former Premier League Legends in Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, both of whom spoke extremely highly of him.
It wasn’t just his managers at Derby who were impressed. His performances for the Rams were enough to catch the eye of Italian side Udinese and the young Enniscorthy man has put pen to paper on a five year deal with the Serie A side, who he will join from July 1.
Although disappointed at Ebosele’s Serie A move, Rooney did go on to to say that he believes the 19 year old will go on to achieve great things in football.
"I said a few months ago he can be a superstar, he can be what he wants,” Rooney said. “He really needs to keep his focus, his concentration, and keep learning to develop.
“Just by sheer pace and power alone he has got something which every player wants. The next part of that is the details, which I talk about after games. Details to his game. If he gets them right, he can go right to the top.”
At the moment, Festy has been enjoying some down time after a difficult season with Derby, in which off the field issues ultimately played a big part in their relegation from the Championship.
However, the news that he’s been included in Stephen Kenny’s Irish senior squad will have been a massive lift ahead of his Italian adventure and news of his inclusion will have been celebrated just as wildly in the homes of his former coaches and teammates and friends locally as in the Ebosele household itself.
"We’re very proud of him,” said Chairman of Moyne Rangers Kevin Lawlor. “For a lad to come through a small club like ours and go right up to getting a senior international cap for Ireland, it’s a massive achievement. Not many clubs in Wexford can boast that. Everyone at the club is absolutely delighted for him and his family.”
Although Festy was quite young when he would have graced the pitches at Bellefield, his talent was evident right away.
"He always seemed destined for big things,” Kevin said. “We had him for those formative years around 10, 11, 12, but you could see it straight away that he had that natural ability. His pace was frightening and his dedication was huge. Personally, I always felt he would make it big one day.”
There’s no doubt that people across Wexford will now carry that extra interest in Ireland’s upcoming Nations League fixtures to see if Festy can get some minutes under his belt with the boys in green and MEP Mick Wallace may not be the only Wexford man with an interest in Serie A next year as we all follow Festy’s fortunes abroad.
Ebosele of course becomes the first Wexford man to represent the Irish Senior Men’s team since Adamstown native Kevin Doyle who made 62 appearances for the boys in green, scoring 14 goals along the way.