SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21:  Michael Obafemi of Southampton in action during the Premier League match between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur at St Mary's Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

7 Things to Know About Michael Obafemi as He Commits His Future to the Republic of Ireland

One thing we know about Southampton teenager Michael Obafemi, is that his international future lies with the Republic of Ireland, after his representatives today released a statement reaffirming his commitment to his country of birth.

Who is the 18-year-old, though, I hear you ask? What's he done to cause such a clamour and fuss at such a young age? How has he already managed to disappoint England fans before he's even started a Premier League game?

Well look no further. Here's seven things to know about Southampton's Michael Obafemi.

1. He's the Second Youngest Player to Appear for the Saints in the Premier League

The media fuss all started when he was substituted on against Tottenham for his senior debut in January, aged just 17 and 199 days, and in the process he became the second youngest player to appear for Southampton in the Premier League .

Only Luke Shaw, now plying his trade for lowly Manchester United, made his debut at a younger age, at 17 and 116 days.

2. He's Got 'Unbelievable' Pace

That's according to his manager, anyway. Speaking to the club website about the 18-year-old, who he has subbed on twice so far this season, Obafemi's pace was among several points of praise from Saints boss Mark Hughes.

 “He’s got unbelievable pace. It was important that I had a look at him in the Premier League environment because he could very well be someone we can use," Hughes said after the 6-1 defeat to Manchester City.

“Bringing on Michael late on in games as an impact sub could be something that will help us. I was pleased with what he did, he didn’t look phased by the stage he was on so that bodes well as something we can work on.

“We’ll see how he progresses. He’s been playing well in the Under-23s and getting goals so he’s deserved his chance.” 

3. He's Been a Key Player for Southampton's Reserve Side

Hughes' words lead us on quite nicely to our next point. He has been scoring goals for Southampton's Under-23 side.

When he hasn't been involved with the first team, he's been a regular for Southampton's B team in Premier League 2. He's started nine of their 11 matches, in fact, scoring five goals - taking his total to a modest 20 in 52 for the Saints' Under-18 and Under-23 teams. 

4. He's Made the Most Recent Ireland Squad

He's eligible for three countries, as he was born in Ireland to Nigerian parents, who raised him in London. His recent form for Saints Under-23s and emergence in the first team set-up, however, has earned him some flattering glances from Ireland boss Martin O'Neill.

He could put any talk of a last minute defection to bed with an appearance in either of Ireland's matches with Northern Ireland or Denmark this week. The boss refused, in fact, to rule out the latter. 

5. His Brother Is a Footballer...But it's Not the Obafemi You're Thinking of

Until now, the most famous Obafemi in football has been Obafemi Martins, of Newcastle fame. The two aren't related, but it's always nice to give him a mention.

His older brother, however, is a footballer. Afolabi Obafemi came through the Leyton Orient youth ranks with Michael, but their careers have gone in different directions since. After kicking about the lower leagues for a while, Afolabi landed at Wingate & Finchley, in the Isthmian League Premier Division, while his younger sibling makes a splash on the international stage.

Not that it's a competition or anything. 

6. He's Formerly of Chelsea...and Arsenal...and Watford

He's starting to make an impression for Southampton but how different could things have been had the coaching staff at one of Obafemi's slate of youth clubs seen the promise that we're just now starting to see from the 18-year old.

Before his 16th birthday, he was on the books fleetingly at Chelsea, Arsenal and then Watford before landing at Leyton Orient, from whom he was poached by Southampton. 

7. He's Already Scored His First Senior Goal for Southampton...Kind of

While he's yet to score for Southampton's first team, he has had a taste of lining up against senior sides for the Saints, courtesy of the EFL trophy.

He scored Southampton Under-23's second against Chesterfield in September, in what was a catalyst for him to press on and catch Mark Hughes' eye.