Adam Idah is confident he will emerge from the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Portugal with a memento of his brush with Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 20-year-old Norwich striker will hope to get the nod from Ireland boss Stephen Kenny to start Wednesday night’s Group A fixture in Faro as they attempt to finally open their account with the odds heavily stacked against them.
Kenny’s young side will find themselves thrust firmly into the limelight with all eyes on Ronaldo as he prepares to complete his move back to Manchester United from Juventus, but Idah has already made his bid for the 36-year-old’s prized shirt after the final whistle.
He said with a smile: “I’ve already got in there. I’ve got a couple of contacts.”
Idah revealed Ronaldo was his favourite player as he was growing up and is relishing the opportunity to go head-to-head with him.
He said: “Everyone is looking forward to that game. Once you have a player like Ronaldo playing in the game, it is exciting. They’re big games for us. Everyone is excited just to get going.”
Asked what he particularly admires in the Portugal skipper, Idah added: “Just the way he carries himself. He’s got an unbelievable attitude, obviously a great work ethic. What he does on the pitch is amazing.
“His goalscoring record is just outrageous. Overall, he’s one of the best, for me.”
Idah and Ronaldo are at opposite ends of their careers with the Irishman still attempting to establish himself at both club and international level, where he was thrown in at the deep end by Kenny when he handed him a first senior cap as a 19-year-old in a 1-1 Nations League draw with Bulgaria in September last year.
However, he insists he does not feel the pressure of leading the line as the likes of he, Aaron Connolly, James Collins, Shane Long and Callum Robinson – missing this month after testing positive for Covid-19 for a second time – attempt to prove they are the man for the job.
He said: “The boys and the staff have helped me. There’s obviously a lot of young players here and they have helped us into the team.
“For me as a striker, the boys in that role helped me quite a bit and we speak in training and off the pitch about how to deal with things, so I wouldn’t say I feel pressure. I’ve been helped quite a bit. I’ve just enjoyed every moment of it.”
Defeats by Serbia and Luxembourg have left Ireland without a single point from the campaign to date and with Azerbaijan and the Serbs heading for Dublin following the trip to Portugal, their fate could be all but decided by the time the players return to their clubs if there is not a dramatic improvement in results.
However, Idah said: “For me and as a team, we’re not thinking that far into it. We’re just going to take Portugal up front, that’s our focus for the next few days.
“We won’t think about if we beat Azerbaijan or Serbia. That’s our mentality for now.”