Ireland U17 striker Adam Idah will once again have his late grandfather Kevin Hayes foremost in his thoughts when they face Bosnia-Herzegovina in today’s pivotal European Championship finals fixture (1pm).
Eight goals from the Corkman helped the Boys in Green reach the showpiece in England and he’ll be tasked with leading the line at St George’s Park for a game they need to avoid defeat in to cement a quarter-final place.
Idah is flying high for Ireland and Norwich City, having joined the Canaries 12 months ago, but the 17-year-old fondly recalls the influence of his grandad in his sporting success.
The son of a Nigerian father and Irish mother showed promise in many codes during his formative years and remained versatile until his undivided attention was required by his first employer in England.
Throughout those years, right up his passing, Idah had the wise counsel of his elder to guide him.
“My granddad encouraged me to play different sports growing up,” explained the Douglas native. “I was into everything from athletics, the long jump along with hurling and Gaelic. I even got to the Community Games national finals in Athlone a couple of years in a row.
“My granddad passed away a couple of years ago just the day before my first international at U15 game for Ireland.”
Hayes would have been proud of the strides since made by his grandson. Having played a year below his age-group at last year’s finals in Croatia, where he scored the winning goal against today’s opposition, Norwich faced late competition from Celtic for his signature. Idah remained loyal to the club that had tracked him stretching back to his performances for Cork in the 2015 Kennedy Cup.
Since joining full-time, a couple of hat-tricks against Barnsley in the FA Youth Cup and Tottenham in the U18 league earned him promotion to the U23 squad and first-team training. There were even reports in Italy that the Leesider was on a long list of potential targets supplied by Manchester United’s scouts to Jose Mourinho.
For now though, his focus is only on Euro qualification with Colin O’Brien’s men.
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