SM Exclusive: Cork City insider reveals all on Cathal Heffernan – “He is a real leader”

By Oliver Fisher -

One of the pieces of business that AC Milan completed that went under the radar in January was the signing of Cathal Heffernan for the youth system.

Over the past couple of days it has been rumoured that Heffernan will be joining the Rossoneri, and now his contract has officially been deposited as the league’s website shows. There is plenty of fascinating background to his arrival such as his previous trials with Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen, the role of Stephen Ireland and the fact his parents are Olympians.

He arrives as somewhat of an unknown quantity given his age and the fact he joins from a league that not many European football fans know too much about. What can Milan expect from Heffernan? We spoke to Cork Echo and Irish Examiner journalist Andrew Horgan

Milan have secured the signing of Heffernan on an initial loan deal. What is the player’s background and how quick has his rise been?

“Well, Cathal comes from a very prominent sporting family as his mother, Marian, was a track athlete, his father, Rob, was an Olympic bronze medallist in 2012 for race walking, and his sister Meghan Carr is a Republic of Ireland underage international and is currently on the books at Cork City.

“Cathal’s rise has been quick but he has impressed at every level he has played with the Republic of Ireland and Cork City underage. He even impressed in his brief cameo for the City senior side in their 3-0 win over Galway on the last day of the season back in October. That was his debut and he became the club’s youngest ever player at just 16 years and 185 days old.”

In your opinion, what is his best role?

“Centre-back, unquestionably. But, to be honest, that’s because I can’t recall seeing him play in another position. He’s such a rock at the heart of the defence I don’t think many of his managers wanted to move him out of there.”

What are Heffernan’s strengths and weaknesses and is there a current player you would compare him to?

“You only need to look at him to see how big a presence he is and he is only 16 years of age. But he is good with the ball, his decision-making is good and he has been known to have the ability to grab a goal at the other end. He is a real leader and a real strong, tough, no-nonsense defender.

“As for his weaknesses, maybe he isn’t the fastest but that’s certainly not to say he is slow either. As for the comparison to another player… that’s not something I’d usually do, to be honest. Rather than getting fans overly excited and/or putting pressure on him by saying he’s the next this or that, I’d prefer to just let him be the only Cathal Heffernan. But maybe he is a bit like Leonardo Bonucci. Am I allowed to say that here?”

Does Heffernan have the potential to break into the senior Ireland squad in the coming years?

“Absolutely, I think it’s only a matter of time.”

Is he ready to make the jump to Serie A – including a new life in Italy – and were other clubs interested?

“Probably not at this moment. It’s one thing being a standout player at under 17 international level and another thing making an immediate jump up to Serie A. Even though Cathal has the build and the strength to cope with the physicality of the league, he only has a few senior minutes under his belt with Cork City in Ireland’s first division and that was an end-of-season dead rubber.

“I would imagine for now it is just about adjusting to a new style of football and a new way of life in Italy while learning his trade in the academy set-up. But if he keeps developing as expected, he will be ready for Serie A at some stage in the future.

“Other clubs were interested in him, he had been on trial in the past with Juventus, Atalanta, and Roma, while he was recently seen wearing a Bayer Leverkusen kit. But AC Milan won the race for his signature.”

Finally, do you have any inside knowledge on the figures of the deal and whether it could be a potential bargain for Milan?

“It’s a curious thing that the deal has gone through, that Heffernan is now in the city of Milan beginning the next stage of his career but at the time of writing there has been no official press release from either club confirming the transfer and its figures.

“It is believed that when Heffernan signed his first pro deal with Cork City last summer, the contract had a release clause in it which means the Irish club is only in line to receive a small five-figure sum.

“A small loan fee will be paid though while there are also sell-on and appearance clauses included. So yes, it is definitely a bargain when you consider some of the fees being paid by clubs in football at the moment.”

READ MORE: Stephen Ireland’s help and a resurrected deal – the background on Cathal Heffernan’s Milan move

Tags AC Milan Cathal Heffernan

1 Comment

  1. It real doesn’t matter for milan…management will do great business by selling him 1 mil Euro in transfer window and make captial gain ..that would be great business

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.