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On the Spot

On the Spot…with Stephen O’Donnell

BANNSIDERS defender Stephen O’Donnell is the man with all the questions to answer as our ‘On the Spot’ series continues…

1. Occupation?

I am a Youth Support Worker. I work with children and young people aged 11-25 in my own community. It’s a great job, really rewarding but a lot of evening and weekend work.

2. Favourite player of all time?

My favourite player of all time would have to be Lionel Messi – the man is unbelievable. Being a centre half, growing up I loved watching John Terry. A real old school centre half who loved defending.

3. Favourite meal?

Favourite meal for me would have to be steak and chips, with pepper sauce and tobacco onions. Medium steak of course.

4. Pre-match breakfast?

Pre match for me is always scrambled egg and beans on toast. Usually followed by a few Nutrigrain bars and a banana closer to the game. Always a packet of fizzy sweets for the changing room, then for one last sugar rush for me and some of the boys before kick off.

5. Any lucky traditions?

I wouldn’t say lucky traditions, but I like to stick to routine in the preparation for matches and on a matchday. So, if I’ve had a certain dinner on the Friday night and we win or keep a clean sheet, you can guarantee that’s what I’ll be eating every Friday until we lose or concede again, that’s one the missus gets annoyed with. I try and stick to the same socks during those spells as well. They probably have no bearing on the result whatsoever, but you never know.

6. PS4 or Xbox?

PS4 all day long. I don’t get much time to play it anymore with the kids, but you can guarantee I’m the best FIFA player in our team. Josh Carson and Aaron Traynor can testify to being on the wrong end of a few results in Serbia.

7. What teams do you support?

I am one of those annoying people who supports two teams. In my house we’re Leeds fans, something my Dad made sure of. It’s been a tough ride for us but hopefully they’re on the way back. I’m sure plenty of people will know, I’m a big Celtic fan as well. We have a few Rangers fans in the changing room too, so the craic is always good around the Old Firm games.

8. Three guests for a dinner – dead or alive – who do you pick and why?

First one would definitely be Kevin Bridges. I’ve been to see him loads of times and his banter is unbelievable, so he’d be the entertainment. Harry Redknapp because he has so many football and racing stories. Then finally I’d bring Ruby Walsh in as well. The three of them would make for some nights craic and plenty of good stories.

9. Favourite movie?

I have two favourite films that I can’t pick between, the first one is See no Evil, Hear no Evil. A brilliant comedy well worth a watch. The second one is Goodfellas.

10. Your favourite moment as a footballer?

My favourite moment has to be winning the Irish Cup in 2018. To captain Coleraine and lift the trophy was unbelievable. Then to have my family and my daughter there as well was a brilliant moment for me that I’ll never forget.

11. If you were deserted on an island, which Coleraine player would you choose to be with and why?

I think that I would have to choose big Skinner. We’re good mates and I think we’d get on alright. He’s got plenty of stories to keep us going and I know that if anything ever happened that I’m quicker than him, so I’d be able to get away first.

12. Do you think Leeds United will get promoted?

I hope so. They’ve a habit recently of being brilliant for the majority of the season and then letting us down at the end. Hopefully this is our year to go up. Because I think if we do go up, we’ll stay there for a long time. I don’t think me and my Dad could take many more promotion failures.

13. If you could be a Coleraine player for one day who would it be and why?

There’s a few boys in our changing room who get it handy. But I’d love to be Dougie for a day. Preferably on a Saturday. The big man gets it handy until about 2.30pm when he comes out to warm up for five minutes. Strolls through games like a Rolls Royce. Then about 5.30pm the craic starts and he is always in the thick of it. He knows everyone and everything and always has a brilliant night out. So, if I was to be anyone it would be Dougie because I know that I’d have some time of it and a few laughs along the way.

14. What other sports do you play?

I play GAA for my local club Doire Trasna, we’re a junior club at the minute. It’s something I’ve always done growing up with my mates and something I really enjoy. I never played last summer because I had some specific prehab work to do before pre-season, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it this summer before the football starts again.

15. What is your favourite away ground to play football?

Obviously going to Windsor is always a great experience and it has good memories there for me, but my favourite place to go is Ballymena. I love the derby, the atmosphere around it and I’ve even managed to score up there before. We even won the semi final of the Irish Cup up there. So it’s somewhere I love going and I know all the boys really enjoy it as well.

16. As a captain what do you think are the most important skills to carry out this role?

I think being a leader is more important than just being the captain. I think it’s important to have high standards and demand things from people. Being able to hold yourself and team mates accountable to each other and take responsibility, no matter who you are. That helps to instil a good work ethic and environment where everyone works hard for each other, no matter what. I think its important that you put the team and the rest of the boys before your own needs. That way you know that everything your doing is for the right reasons.

17. Who is the best striker you’ve ever marked or came up against?

Raheem Sterling actually played in my youth team at QPR and he was unbelievable. So he’s definitely the best. Then for Coleraine, as much as it pains me to say it, we played Rangers in a pre-season friendly a few years ago and Kenny Miller’s movement was brilliant, and he gave us the run around. Then in the Irish League, Gavin Whyte and Paul Smyth were both brilliant. Their raw pace and quality were really good and it’s good to see them doing well in full time football and international level. I’m just buzzing that I don’t have to run after them anymore.