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Ebosele expects 'top manager' Rooney to succeed at Birmingham
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Adam Drury
Wayne Rooney lost his first game as Birmingham manager
Wayne Rooney lost his first game as Birmingham manager

Festy Ebosele believes Wayne Rooney is a "top manager" who can succeed in his new job at Birmingham.

The Blues lost 1-0 at Middlesbrough in Rooney's first game in charge, conceding a late goal having frustrated their hosts.

But Ebosele was handed his senior debut by the ex-Manchester United forward at Derby and is grateful to his former boss for kick-starting a career that now sees him play for Udinese in Italy.

He told LiveScore: "It was amazing working under him for that year.

"Everybody loved playing for him because his man-management was so good. That was definitely his strength.

"He really knew what every player needed to perform and how to get them to want to come in and give 100%. The sessions were always enjoyable.

"I owe him a lot because he trusted me enough to play me and I was able to get the move to Udinese because of that.

"He is a top manager."

Rapid improvement

Festy Ebosele has broken into the Udinese first team this season
Festy Ebosele has broken into the Udinese first team this season

Having left Pride Park in the summer of 2022, Ebosele is now getting stuck into life on the continent.

The 2023-24 campaign has seen him rewarded with more playing time at Udinese, including coming up against some of the world's best attackers such as Victor Osimhen and Federico Chiesa.

And the pacey wing-back feels he is improving rapidly in one of Europe's top five leagues.

He said: "Udinese is a great club for developing players.

"We've got great facilities here. I needed a bit of time to adapt to a new country and a new league but every game I play I feel like I'm enjoying it more and more.

"Coming up against players I grew up watching is an amazing feeling.

"I enjoy learning the language, too. I've done a few interviews in Italian and I speak with the coaches.

"The lifestyle here is just really good."

Clicking into gear

Le Zebrette have suffered a disappointing start to the season, sitting 17th in the Serie A table ahead of this evening's game with Lecce but their 21-year-old puts that down to teething issues.

He said: "I think we signed 16 new players over the summer so there was always going to be an adaptation period.

"We're still getting to know each other on the pitch and so once that clicks more then we can start improving our results.

"Personally, I'm enjoying myself in Italy. I'm going to see how this season goes and then just keep on from there."

Different level

Festy Ebosele battes with Aurelien Tchouameni
Festy Ebosele battes with Aurelien Tchouameni

Ebosele's impressive rise saw him earn a Republic of Ireland debut last month against World Cup runners-up France at Parc des Princes.

The Derby academy graduate admits that coming up against Kylian Mbappe and Co was an eye-opener — but relished the opportunity.

He said: "It felt amazing being on the pitch with those types of players.

"It showed that there are different levels to the game as well. It was only a few minutes but you could tell how good they are. I enjoyed it.

"It's a really young team that we've got at the moment. It's been a disappointing qualifying campaign but I think in a couple of years we can be a very, very good international side.

"I'm really happy being part of that setup. It's a big part of why I'm really enjoying my football right now."


UdineseFesty EboseleSerie ADerby CountyBirminghamChampionshipLeague One
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