Soccer

Stephen O'Donnell talks retirement, Bergkamp's nutmeg and Stephen Kenny's Ireland

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

08:04 10 Jan 2019


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The last five years have been a dream for Stephen O'Donnell when it comes to trophy wins.

The Dundalk club captain has won four League of Ireland titles in the past five seasons and was also part of the side that reached the Europa League group stages. He also won League of Ireland titles with Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers prior to that.

But all good things must come to an end. And this week, the 32-year-old Galway man is calling time on his playing career.

He joined us on tonight's Off The Ball to talk about his decision and future plans. And he also went on to discuss other aspects of his career.

"It's just a culmination of a lot of things," he said.

"The body's taken a bit of a bashing. The last year, I felt in the off-season the time is right. I've heard people say before, 'When you know, you know'. I was happy enough."

Stephen Kenny

He added that since the European run of 2016, "the next two seasons, I wasn't happy injury-wise".

"I just didn't want to be hanging around the place. I thought being the captain and that, your captain's gotta be a leader and playing to a very high level and I didn't know if I was capable of that anymore. I didn't know how much I could go to the well again," he added.

But he added that he "hadn't lost the love of it".

As for what's next, O'Donnell will be joining the Dundalk coaching staff in the area of opposition analysis.

O'Donnell also shared insights from earlier in his career. For example, his early beginnings at Arsenal featured training sessions with the Invincibles.

In one case, Dennis Bergkamp nutmegged him.

Meanwhile, he also shared his thoughts on what the Irish set-up can expect from Stephen Kenny as he prepares to take the Under-21 role before becoming Ireland senior boss after Euro 2020.

"He's a great man-manager and you've got to remember that the biggest characters in that squad are ex-League of Ireland players," he said.

"You have the captain, Seamus Coleman, and James McClean's obviously a big personality in that squad. He'll have their instant respect and I assume that will go a long way towards the rest of the squad."

And he also predicts that Kenny will have his Ireland team believing against any opposition.

"I can assure you when he's manager of Ireland, Ireland will be going out to win games, with full belief in themselves to beat anyone, no matter the who they're up against."

You can listen to the full interview above or on the podcast player. And keep an eye on our social channels: Our League of Ireland Show will be returning soon.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


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