Darren O’Dea On What It’s Really Like Being Managed By Anelka!


This article was first published on November 12th 2015

Darren O’Dea has had one of the more interesting football careers than your average professional. He’s spent time in Scotland and England, like most of the top level Irish players do. However unlike most top level Irish internationals, he’s also spent time playing in Canada, Ukraine, and now India with Mumbai City FC, where he is managed by Nicolas Anelka.

“It’s been great working with Anelka. Obviously I don’t need to tell you about his career, he’s played with nearly every top team in Europe. He’s just a fantastic wealth of experience. He’s as fit now as he was probably ten years ago.”

“He’s in fantastic shape, he’s still very quick, and very similar to the player he always was. It’s great to play with him and learn from him. He’s mixing the role of player and coach and it’s just been great so far.”

O’Dea has always had an interest in playing abroad, and that helped spark the decision to move to play in the Indian Super League. Speaking on the BeanBagSports Podcast, the Dubliner stated, “I quickly got restless in England, I quite enjoyed playing abroad so the interest was always there. So last Christmas I just took the plunge and went for it.”

On adapting to life in India, O’Dea says it’s not like anything that can be compared to in Europe. “Ukraine was very different for me, but India is just a totally different world. We’re locked off in the sense that we’re in a bit of a bubble, we live in a very luxurious hotel and we’ve kind of got everything catered for.

“But obviously you’re not walking around with your eyes shut. The country is mental, to put it for someone from Ireland really! But it’s a fantastic experience really, it’s a very very busy city and country.”

Being such a globetrotter as he is, O’Dea has picked up a wealth of experience that few in the Irish setup can boast. In his travels, he’s learned things about life and football that nobody else can learn without clocking the miles he has.

“I see completely different cultures. In England, in the Premier League there’s obviously a vast amount of different nationalities playing, but in the Championship you find very very similar players all the time. Scotland is similar to that. In Ukraine, there were so many Brazilians playing. Over here [India] there’s jut a complete mixture of different cultures and styles.

“It’s good as a person and as a footballer to experience different things. I’ve learned a lot more in 2 or 3 years playing abroad than 7 years in Britain. I think it’s important to study everyone’s philosophies and cultures and pick what the best bits from them. In England, people are quite closed off and think England is everything, but it’s a very big world out there.”

You can listen to the full interview with the man with 20 international appearance on the BeanBagSports Podcast below, as well as the truth of the ‘bust-up’ between Nicolas Anelka and his assistant manager at Mumbai City!

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