Brexit effect | 

Irish AC Milan star Cathal Heffernan says European clubs will take over British

The youngster had English clubs desperate to sign him but post-Brexit rules regarding underage players in the transfer market put an end to that

Cathal Heffernan with AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini.

Níall FeiritearSunday World

Brexit will cause English football clubs to fall behind their European rivals, young Irish football sensation Cathal Heffernan says.

The AC Milan teenager is the son of Olympians Rob and Marian, who competed in race walking and the 400m relay for Ireland.

The youngster had English clubs desperate to sign him but post-Brexit rules regarding underage players in the transfer market put an end to that.

“If Brexit hadn’t happened, I probably could be in England right now,” the Cork man told Sky Sports.

Heffernan started out with Cork side, Ringmahon Rangers AFC, before signing for Cork City in 2019. He made his international debut that year and after two successful seasons, received a call up to the senior team before later signing with AC Milan.

While many Irish kids grew up with plans to head across the channel to play in the Premier League, the new rules are making Europe a more attractive option. Hence, the reason why Heffernan ended up in the Italian fashion capital.

“I think it’s a massive disadvantage for England, they’re going to have to figure out a way to counteract it in the future or they’ll end up paying the price. The way it is, European clubs are just going to start taking over by getting the best players from all around Europe,” Cathal said.

Heffernan has been pictured beside AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini recently and has trained alongside Swedish hero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The teenager can see clearly how positive the Italian move has proven to be, despite his previous options.

“I could be in England right now, I’m not saying I would be in England but it would be a good bit of the way there. I’d been on a couple of trials in Italy as well and thankfully I landed this one in Milan, it changed my life so I’m kind of happy it happened in a way, but it would have been nice to go to England as well,” Cathal said.

The Milan prospect’s Dad, Rob, has been over to watch his son play for the Rossoneri on a number of occasions, wisely warning last year against making assumptions about his son’s future success, when he said: “People in Ireland get carried away because it’s a big club. If you’re a young player going into that environment to grow and develop, the bar never stops.

“You could come to a stage at 18 where something happens and you might not want it. I’ve seen loads of brilliant athletes at 16 or 17, but mentally they don’t want that life.

“Cathal has the advantage of living that life with us as a kid. He was away in camps, stuck up mountains and in caves.

“The football life is way easier and more glamorous than an athlete’s training camp,” Rob added.

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