Stephen O’Donnell was hoping to make a move that was right for his family – so to finally move to his local club was a perfect short-term fix for the new Motherwell full-back.
The Scotland international left Kilmarnock at the end of last season following a fruitful spell in Ayrshire. It was expected that he would move south of the border again but nothing came to fruition.
A desire to play was burning inside and he had been training with Hamilton as he looked to keep up his fitness. With Motherwell having injury problems at full-back and O’Donnell eager to get playing again, it was a perfect time to join the Steelmen on an initial deal until January.
“I have not played for five months so I was starting to itch to get back in,” said O’Donnell. “The club is on my doorstep, I know a lot of people involved, added into the mix you are playing in Europe, they finished third last season and they play a good, attractive brand of football, on a grass pitch, which will be a nice change.
“I always said I had an interest in going back down south, if it was right for myself and my family. I had a couple of offers and they weren’t right. Whether it was financially, or the club, all round, it didn’t matter, it needed to be right for my family first and foremost.
“I don’t think it could be more right than two minutes down the road. I will certainly get plenty of time to spend with my wee man. I have waited enough. I was fed up in the house. Albeit I was training with Accies, which was brilliant, I wanted to get back playing.
“I was thinking worst case I would maybe have to sign League One and maybe stay away from my family for a year, and I really didn’t want to do that. I was delighted when Motherwell came in and showed a real intent to get me.”
Almost happened before
This isn’t the first time Motherwell have shown an interest in O’Donnell. They were aware of his talent as a teenager and chief executive Alan Burrows had a chat with him when he was leaving Luton Town.
Nothing has materialised until now. At the time, not even a good strawberry tart could entice him to come to Fir Park – but he’s thrilled to be wearing claret and amber now.
“When I was down at Luton I had a couple of conversations with Mr. Burrows,” he said. “I maybe just didn’t feel it was right at the time. When I was younger, my best friend’s dad was the coach of the under-14s, Tom McCafferty.
“Him and Chris McCart entertained me at a Celtic game here. And I remember the strawberry tarts were incredible. I was at Aberdeen at the time and I loved playing my football for Aberdeen and it was never really a goer.
“It was very tempting because it’s so close to home and I know so many fans. I have had a lot of texts from people who have Motherwell at their heart and I’m delighted to be here now.”
Manager Stephen Robinson has been forced to lament his full-back luck so far this season. Four options in defense, Charles Dunne, Nathan McGinley, Liam Donnelly and Jake Carroll, are all out with lengthy injuries so he needed cover.
To grab an international quality full-back, even on a short-term deal, is a big bonus for the Well ahead of their trip to Hibs this evening. Left-back is probably the area in need of most reinforcement and O’Donnell insists he’s happy to play anywhere.
“If the manager wants me to play left-back I’m more than happy to do so, I’ll try my best and if it’s good enough then I’ll keep playing, and if it’s not I’m sure he won’t be happy and will let me know,” he said.
“I played right of a three at Kilmarnock, played left-back at Thistle, I think, and I’ve played in a back three for Scotland, so I think I’m relatively flexible. It’s a solution for both parties.
“They need to get replacements in, so it was good for me to come in and get football. If I’m doing well and they’re happy I’m sure there will be discussions, but equally there is the flexibility that if I’m having a stinker they can go ‘off you pop’ so it’s a good decision for both.”