Saturday 25 November 2017

O'Dea feared dropping off international radar before Leeds switch

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

NO ONE was more delighted than Kevin Moran when Darren O'Dea finally secured a move away from Celtic Park last weekend.

He might be better known as a former Dublin GAA, Manchester United and Ireland legend, but Moran is also O'Dea's agent and he had been receiving daily phone calls from the Dubliner, who yesterday admitted he was "scared" by the prospect of another season on the bench for Celtic until he secured a season-long loan to Leeds United.

Why? Well, O'Dea finished last season in flying form for his country after starring against Italy in Liege and the defender reckons he has earned the trust of Giovanni Trapattoni to start big games.

But he knows to keep that trust, he needs to play regular football and although his Leeds debut was Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Southampton, he reckons he is in the right place to further his international ambitions.

"My agent is happier with the move than I am. I've literally been ringing him non-stop, I was desperate to get out," he said.

"I was genuinely scared of missing out. The country is in a good place right now, as in we have come off the back of four wins and everybody is very confident that we'll qualify. It will be very tough. We're confident, though, and I'm desperate to be part of it.

"I was very worried about that at the start of the season. I was desperate to get out, I could see the Ireland squad doing fantastically well, we're top of the group and next month will decide whether we will qualify.


"I watched the World Cup draw being made and you want to be part of that. If we do manage to qualify, as everyone hopes we do, then you want to be part of that as well.

"Sitting around at Celtic would have hampered me a lot in that, so that's why it's great to get out and playing first-team football and games like Wednesday (against Croatia) will only help me."

Having finished the season in pole position, O'Dea is well aware the return of Richard Dunne will affect his chances of starting for Ireland. But he feels Trapattoni will have no qualms in playing him, starting with tomorrow's friendly.

"I did what I felt I had to do last month. You've got Richard Dunne going for God knows how long, while Ledge (Sean St Ledger) has come in over the last few years and done well," he said.

"I feel I've done well when I've come in and that bodes well for the manager when he has plenty to pick from. He'll pick his best team and I hope to be part of that. Any chance I get, I'll try to hope to impress.

"He's a good manager that way, once he trusts you, then you're part of plans and he'll keep you involved It was a test. I feel I did earn his trust but I still needed to be playing week in, week out anyway."

Irish Independent

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