ADAM Idah has told young players racially abused online to ignore the trolls and dream of playing for the Republic of Ireland senior team.
The Football Association of Ireland last week called in police after members of the nation's U15s boys team were targeted on multiple social media platforms.
On Monday evening, Cork-born Norwich striker Idah, who has a Nigerian father and an Irish mother, was part of a Republic squad which included five players with African heritage - Gavin Bazunu, Andrew Omobamidele, Chiedozie Ogbene and Michael Obafemi are the others - for the Euro 2024 qualifier against France.
Asked about the attacks, he said: "It's not a nice thing to see or hear, it's an awful thing. I have experienced it myself, it's not nice for those lads. U15s is such a young age, it's outrageous.
"No matter where you are from or who you are, you always have that chance.
"All I can say to those young lads is to keep their heads up, don't listen to what anyone says, focus on themselves and one day they could be in this team as well."
The tenor of the abuse aimed at the U15s players was that they were "not Irish", and Idah condemned that view.
Asked how hurtful that was, the 22-year-old said: "The lads know themselves they are Irish, no matter what colour skin you are, what religion you are. If you feel like you have the Irish in you, of course.
"We are all here to welcome whoever. If you want to play for this badge, then you are more than welcome. They want to put in as much work as everyone else and fight for their place in the team, I stand by them."
Idah revealed he has come off his social media accounts after being targeted himself, and called on the companies which run the platforms to clamp down on offenders.
He said: "There should be an identity check when you do set up these social media things. Every company should know who is on their app.
"These things shouldn't be said. I stand strong with racism. It's not a nice thing at all and I try to do the best I can to try to stop it.
"But people will always be like that. We need to educate people a bit better, that's the main thing. Hopefully one day we can crack down on it."
Ogbene, the official Man of the Match in the 1-0 loss to France at the Aviva, came through the underage soccer ranks in Cork before impressing with Cork City and Treaty United and moving to England. He was also a standout Gaelic Footballer with Nemo Rangers, lining out in an U21 county final.
Idah attended school in Douglas and shone in the College Corinthians jersey for 10 years under he was recruited by Norwich in 2017 as a 16-year-old. He made his senior debut two years later and scored a memorable hat-trick against Preston North End in January 2020 progressing to the Ireland senior squad when Stephen Kenny took over.