Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 could very well be a date that will prove to be very important for a young man from France. Gabriel Obertan of Bordeaux wore the No 11 shirt of his native country against the Republic of Ireland at the RSC last Tuesday and to say he made a big impression would be the understatement of the year so far.
A very healthy attendance of 1,272 were present to watch the friendly Under 19 game and every one of those spectators left the venue raving about the performance of Obertan. He gave a display that the people of Waterford have not seen for a very long time, and there is no doubt that this player will become a mega name in the game during the coming years.
He scored two wonderful goals, but it was his overall play which brought the crowd to its feet. He opened the scoring with a superb strike after 38 minutes and then he had the confidence to loft a truly brilliant 30 yard shot high into the net following a mistake by the Irish captain Michael Spillane of Norwich City.
That goal arrived on 59 minutes. In between, another very talented player, Dominique Mamonea of Torino, scored from the penalty spot. France won the game 3-0. The French team gave those present plenty to talk about and it was delightful to see football played in the beautiful fashion it is meant to be played.
One touch football and brilliant passing was the order of the day and it was a joy to behold. Needless to say many English club scouts were present and it came as no real surprise that Chelsea by all accounts made a €4 million bid for Gabriel Obertan the day after the game.
The slightly-built, blond-haired player turned on the style out wide left, then on the right and finally up front as a striker. His presence in Waterford will be talked about for many a long day to come, and I have no doubt that in years to come those of us who were lucky enough to see him play last Tuesday will re-live the night we first saw him in the flesh.
Down through the years we here in Waterford have seen some fantastic players come to Kilcohan Park and the RSC to play either with their club or with their country. I have a feeling we may have seen the best yet last week!