Ireland has benefitted in the past from late bloomers such as Keith Andrews and Matt Holland, so Hamilton’s belated elevation at 27 should be embraced.
Born in Harrow, London, Hamilton was raised in his mother Mandy’s birthplace of Waterford, where he excelled for Clonea’s hurling team and the football sides of Portlaw and Carrick United. His granddad Dixie O’Keefe still lives in Portlaw.
Known then as Christopher, the attacker’s talents earned him representative honours for Waterford, scoring against Alan Browne’s Cork U13 side and lining out at the Kennedy Cup, where his side reached the quarters.
The Wexford teenager moved from his local Enniscorthy club Moyne Rangers to St Joseph’s Boys in Dublin at the age 13 and opted to join Derby County in the face of competition from Manchester United and Chelsea.
A winger with explosive pace, his decision proved a wise one, for he was fast-tracked into the Rams side by Wayne Rooney for his Championship debut in April 2021.
Financial issues at Derby made up his mind to join Udinese this summer and he could have a senior cap to show first.