Darren O’Dea adapts to new challenge in Ukraine
Defender impressed with standard in league dominated by Shakhtar
Darren O’Dea competes with Shane Long during the Republic of Ireland training session in Malahide yesterday. Photograph: Inpho.
Footballers have failed medicals at clubs for many reasons down the years but it’s hard to imagine that many have passed them after fainting midway through. For Darren O’Dea, though, it’ll be just a footnote to another chapter in what should be one hell of a book.
A month and a half on from completing his latest move – from MLS side Toronto to Metelurh Donetsk in Ukraine – the 26 year-old is, he insists, in good shape, but he admits his mid-July move prompted a bout of exhaustion from which it took him several weeks to recover.
“What people don’t see is the build-up to the signing,” says the Dubliner.
“With the time difference, I was on the phone at four o’clock every morning. I wasn’t sleeping in the three weeks leading up to it.”
Then, for the medical: “I travelled around 24 hours by plane because I had travelled to an away game with Toronto, had to fly back to Toronto, then on to Munich and then Donestk. Basically, my body just caved in for a while.
“It was just all too much,” he recalls. “After a few days I thought I’d get over it but three weeks later I had nothing left in me.”
Quality of life
O’Dea could never be accused of being one of the game’s complainers. He loved Canada because of the quality of life it offered him and his family but they have, for the moment at least, been separated by the switch to Donetsk where he has nevertheless been quick to find his feet.
He has learned “quite a bit” of the language, he says, and established a decent rapport with his new team mates. Most of the teething problems, he reckons, are behind him now and he is looking forward to settling down to a little more first team football with a club that, while currently eclipsed by neighbours, Shakhtar, has big ambitions.
“Everything is brand new to me as I go along,” he says, “but I’m sure I’ll learn. It’s a very good, strong league with plenty of good teams and players so I’ve been impressed with it so far.
“We’d be a top five team. There’s obviously Dinamo Kiev and Dnipro, but Shakhtar are kings of the league. They’ll win it, as they have the last few years, but the amount of money Metalurh has is frightening. They’re building a new stadium and the training facilities are phenomenonal.”