Ireland’s most in-demand teen footballer, Kevin Zefi, has chosen to test himself in Europe by joining Serie A giants Inter Milan.
The winger, who turns 16 next month, has attracted the spotlight since scoring a brace in Ireland’s 3-1 win over England in an U15 international at St George’s Park in December 2019.
Several Premier League clubs lodged their interest in the Shamrock Rovers prospect but he broadened his options to the continent.
Inter saw enough to offer a long-term contract and, though Covid-19 prevented him accepting invites to visit other clubs such as PSV Eindhoven, he and his family opted to follow in the footsteps of Irish legends Liam Brady and Robbie Keane by joining Inter.
Brady spent two seasons at the San Siro in the 1980s, making 58 appearances, while Keane’s short-lived stint in 2000 involved just 14 outings.
It’s understood the young gem has relatives living in Milan and will be initially joined in Italy by his parents, who are both Albanian-born.
Rovers swooped to snare Zefi from cross-city rivals St Kevin’s Boys when he was 13, promoting him to the Hoops reserve side that competed in last year’s League of Ireland First Division.
His finish in September against Longford Town – aged 15 years and 206 days – broke the 10-year record for youngest ever scorer in the league held by Stephen McGann.
As Zefi cannot turn professional until he is 16, Rovers won’t receive a transfer fee. They and St Kevin’s Boys are entitled to receive compensation from Inter under Fifa's training and development laws.
In other transfer news, Cork native Denise O’Sullivan has been joined at US top-flight club North Carolina Courage by her Ireland team-mate Diane Caldwell. The veteran defender moves transatlantic after spending the last four years with German outfit SC Sand.
Conor Masterson, who finished the last U21 Euro campaign as Ireland captain, has joined John Sheridan’s League One strugglers Swindon Town for the rest of the season. The Dubliner had found his opportunities at parent club QPR limited this season.
Fellow Rovers first-teamers James Furlong and Sinclair Armstrong remained on amateur forms before they signed for Brighton and QPR respectively. Armstrong has just been granted a two-year contract extension by R’s Director of Football Les Ferdinard, a mere two months after joining the Championship club.