Ireland's James Abankwah has admitted that he was "delighted" to have made his debut in Serie A this weekend. Abankwah came off the bench for the Italian side Udinese in their 1-0 loss to Juventus.
Abankwah, who was born in Waterford and signed for Udinese on a four-and-a-half-year contract from St Patrick's Athletic in 2022, has had to bide his time at the senior level in Italy, but his chance came this weekend. He made his full debut by starting in the loss.
A regular for Ireland youth teams since U16 level, the 19-year-old is the Republic of Ireland Under-19 captain, and is highly regarded by coaches. Manager Andrea Sottil stated after the match that Abankwah was one of the players who "is the future of Udinese."
"With the selection problems we had, we handed full debuts to two lads born in 2004 [James Abankwah and Axel Guessand] – two highly promising lads the club has invested in," said Sottil on the club's website. "They deserved this chance, and I must say they did well. The same goes for [Nicolo] Cocetta. Regardless of the result, it's wonderful to see these 18-year-old kids out there holding their own against Juve's stars. They are the future of Udinese."
Abankwah himself, speaking after the game, added: "I'm very happy to have made my full Serie A debut. I want to thank the gaffer and all my teammates. It was a difficult game against a good team. I was very tired and I felt cramps, but I just tried to do my best."