Sport Soccer

Saturday 21 October 2017

McGeady happy to play every minute of friendly fare after season in dugouts from Moscow to Merseyside

Aidan McGeady is enjoying life at Everton and hoping to hold down a regular starting place next season. Photo: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Aidan McGeady is enjoying life at Everton and hoping to hold down a regular starting place next season. Photo: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

When Aiden McGeady received a phone call from Martin O'Neill to discuss his participation in Ireland's end-of-season matches, they both had the same idea about the extent of his involvement.

The effects of a long season will curtail the involvement of certain players over the next three weeks but, after spending seven weeks on the sidelines over the winter ahead of leaving Spartak Moscow for Everton, McGeady is feeling fresh.

"He phoned me and he was just asking what I thought about the games because I think there might be some players playing games here and there, a couple leaving and a couple coming in, but I said 'Nah, I'll play all the games if you want, I'm available for all of them' and he said 'fair enough, that's what I was thinking anyway' because to be honest I could do with the games."

By his own admission, McGeady had a bit of work to do ahead of his Premier League bow with the Toffees, a move that came ahead of schedule.

"You probably saw the pictures when I signed," he says. "I was a bit overweight – I hadn't kicked a ball in seven weeks."

Over time, the 28-year-old has adjusted to his new surroundings, and embraced the football challenge in a quicker league. Even in training, it's a step up from anything he's encountered before but he's enjoying working under Roberto Martinez.

The Spaniard told McGeady when he joined that any appearances this season were a bonus given that he was initially expected to join this summer, so there's no gripe from the player over not yet being a regular.

"I've started a few games, come on a lot of times and I'm just delighted that I'm there," he says.

"There's a lot of quality there but I still think that if I can have a good pre-season and work hard, there's definitely a chance there for me."

It's not just about football satisfaction. Personal circumstances have also improved now that he's only a drive away from his native Glasgow.

"I don't want to go down the road of slagging off Spartak and slagging off Russia but everything is easier over here," he says. "The way of life is totally different and it's great for my family."

He is proud, however, that he stuck it out and didn't join the lengthy list of players that tried a foreign experiment and chucked it in just as quickly. "I'm glad that I went there and that after a year I didn't come back with my tail between my legs," he says.

"I remember a lot of people saying I'd be out there for six months and wouldn't last so I'm glad to have proved them wrong.

"It was a great experience for me, eye-opening as well, but after three years I'd had enough. I did almost four years and towards the end I was still playing and the club still offered me a new contract."

The extra 12 months wasn't planned and it soured a little in the final weeks when he was dispatched to the youth team but, in hindsight, the delay of his departure panned out nicely.

Martinez had lined him up for a move to Wigan in January 2013 but it collapsed and they were subsequently relegated. A year later, the long- term admirer came back as Everton manager.

"At the time I was disappointed," he says of the Wigan drama. "But it couldn't have worked out better. He got a great job at a great club like Everton and he still liked me. I couldn't be happier."

  • Aiden McGeady is one of 7,469 players across 203 FIFA sanctioned teams in EA SPORTS 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, OUT NOW on Xbox 360 and PS3"

Irish Independent

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