Former Celtic player Darren O’Dea found himself in a difficult situation in Ukraine earlier this year. The ongoing troubles in that part of the world meant he couldn’t fully focus on football.

Speaking exclusively to the Irish defender spoke about the difficulties of being treated for his injury in the Ukraine and how the chance to recover at Lennoxtown came about –

“It came about when I first got injured. Because of the problems in Ukraine I couldn’t be properly treated. So I rang Tim Williamson(Celtic’s head physio) and asked could he help me out. It really humbled me how quickly Celtic and the people there were to help me.” said Darren
“I rang Peter Lawwell who again couldn’t have done any more to help and for the last 3 weeks I’ve been in at lennoxtown being treated and getting back to full fitness.
“I’ve known people there for over 12 years but to get the support I did was really nice.”

Darren left Celtic in 2012 after coming through the clubs ranks as a youngster and he feels at home at Lennoxtown surrounded by people he has known for years.

The only difference (at Celtic) is the players. Obviously I still have mates within the team like Broony, Charlie etc. But the staff is all the same. It hit me how long and how strong a relationship I had with the club when I went back. I literally know everyone in the club. From the physios to the cleaners to the groundsmen.
“I was always the type to try get to know people and I’m the type that would be as friendly with players as I would the guy who delivers the bread!
“A lot of days I’ll sit in with John Clark in the laundry room for a chat. It all feels like home. It’s strange!”

A lot of Toronto FC fans speak very highly of the Irishman who spent a season with the Canadian side, going on to captain them in the process. Many of their fans would love to see him play for them again and Darren spoke highly of the club.

“I fell in love with that place. It’s the closest thing to Celtic the way I felt about the club and people. I always fought for the best for the club. The club there is new compared to a lot of British teams so in some ways is still finding its feet.
“I was captain there which was an honour and I did everything I could on and off the pitch to make the place better. Of course I’d go back there.
“But in football there is so many variables in moving to a club. But TO will always be a special place for me. I still speak to people regularly there.”

The 27-year-old is desperate to get back fit and playing regularly again but knows he must take his time before he’s ready for the next chapter of his career.

“The hunger in me to get back playing is boiling over at times so it’s great to have people at Celtic to advise me as to how hard I can push things. I’m the type who needs that.”

The Irishman is unsure where his immediate future lies but he didn’t rule out a return to Scotland.

“I would never rule anything out. At the end of the day I’m a free agent so it’s clubs that dictate where I play next. I’ve been lucky I’ve had interest from plenty of teams so once I’m fit I’ll have a decision to make.
“As for Scotland, it’s an option but all I can do just now is get fit and see what’s best for me and my family then.”

Personally I would love to see Darren back in a Celtic jersey, if the opportunity presented itself in the future than I have no doubts the Irishman would jump at the chance. With Celtic’s defence a bit thin on the ground it would make sense for Ronny to bring him in. He’s matured in his travels since leaving Celtic and it never hurts to have players who know and appreciate what Celtic is all about.

Wherever he does end up we wish him all the best.