The trend of promising young Irish players going to Italy has continued with Cathal Heffernan's move to AC Milan.
The son of Olympians, Marian & Rob, has signed a loan agreement with the Serie A giants from Cork City.
Heffernan's move comes a week after St. Patrick's Athletic pocketed a reported League of Ireland record fee for defender, James Abankwah. The 18-year old joined Udinese.
Milan's city rivals Inter also raided Shamrock Rovers for Kevin Zefi last year.
Heffernan a defender, still only 16, and his move to Milan has come with more than a little help from Stephen Ireland.
The former Republic of Ireland midfielder got in contact with Rob Heffernan in 2020 in an effort to help with Cathal's career. He helped secure training sessions with the likes of Milan, Juventus, Roma and Atalanta.
The Rossoneri beat competition from Bayer Leverkusen for the 16-year old's signature, which will see Cork City make a five-figure sum should Heffernan's loan deal get extended beyond the summer.
“I got really friendly with Stephen Ireland," the 2012 50k walk bronze medallist told The Irish Daily Star last year, "He rang me there a year and a half ago and now he is probably one of my best friends.
“He got onto me about Cathal and we spoke."
Heffernan added, "On the football side of things, Stephen has so much to offer.
“Because he has a young fella (Joshua) around Cathal’s age and because he was probably exploited a lot himself throughout his own career, and not having had that guidance, he learned so much and he is very passionate now about helping young kids coming through, so that the same things that happened to him don’t happen to them.”