Sport Soccer

Thursday 14 December 2017

O'Dea swaps Toronto for Donetsk's lesser lights

Ireland's Darren O'Dea
Ireland's Darren O'Dea
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

DARREN O'DEA has put the finishing touches to his move to Ukrainian club Metalurh Donetsk after his contentious departure from Toronto FC.

O'Dea, the skipper of the MLS club, was told he was surplus to requirements by manager Ryan Nelsen on account of the size of his wage packet. Nelsen described O'Dea's €350,000-a-year salary as "ridiculous" and told Toronto officials to move him on.

The Ireland defender shunned a lucrative move to Ukraine last year in favour of a better quality of life for his family in Canada.

Now, he is on his way to Donetsk, where he has agreed a three-year deal with the city's lesser lights, Metalurh, who have been overshadowed by the exploits of neighbours Shakhtar.

They finished fifth in the league last season and will enter the Europa League at the third qualifying stage with a view to qualifying for the group stages.

Their regular 5,000 capacity stadium is unfit for European games, so they will use the Donbass Arena, the home of Shakhtar and a Euro 2012 venue, as they bid to make the jump.

They are currently in the process of building their own stadium and have ambitions of becoming a genuine long-term rival for their neighbours.

However, Metalurh are quite an unstable club and current boss Yuriy Maksymov is their 13th manager in the space of 10 years. They have existed in their current guise for 17 years.

O'Dea was approached by another Ukrainian side, Tavriya, last year and revealed that he could have earned three times as much as his Canadian wage.

The Dubliner is following in the footsteps of his good friend Aiden McGeady, who broke the mould by uprooting for a new life in a different culture in Moscow, although McGeady is keen to leave Spartak this summer after a three-year stay.

Both should be named today in Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland squad for the August 14 friendly with Wales. Trapattoni is likely to reveal an enlarged squad with a view to cutting it down closer to the fixture.

The only MLS-based player now in his plans, captain Robbie Keane, is a doubt as he is currently troubled by a hip problem and has been only sparingly involved in friendly internationals since agreeing a new deal at LA Galaxy.

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