JUST five games into his Ballarat Red Devils career former Liverpool player Danny O’Donnell already feels at home.
Based on his first few performances for the club it would be easy to believe that he is one of the McDonalds Reds’ old hands.
O’Donnell began contract talks with Red Devils player manager James Robinson in early February and by March 12 he landed in Ballarat in a bid to become a part of the Red Devils’ first foray into the National Premier Leagues Victoria.
The two previously knew each other through clubs in England.
“We didn’t know each other personally but he (Robinson) knew that my contract was coming to an end at the end of the English season,” O’Donnell said.
“It was a decision that I didn’t take lightly, but the passion of the people of the club and knowing that they’re working towards something really special just came out in the conversations we had.”
In the space of four weeks the 188-centimetre defender had taken a monumental leap of faith and left a successful Barrow outfit (that he captained) to create history with the Red Devils.
While the 28-year-old has bought wholeheartedly into the Ballarat philosophy and way of life, even helping coach the under-12 to under-16 squads, he cannot deny that his heart still lies with his former group of Reds.
“I grew up in Liverpool and followed them since I was a little boy,” O’Donnell said.
“I stayed up on Sunday to watch the Reds (premier league match against Chelsea).
“It gives you a bit of pride to see them in a title race for a change.”
O’Donnell lived the childhood dream of playing for his favourite club when he was selected for Liverpool’s youth side as a 16-year-old in 2002.
Within two years he was captain of the under-18s and in 2005 travelled to the FIFA Club World Championship as part of the senior squad.
Now he’s turned his sights towards Saturday’s hometown blockbuster against ladder leader South Melbourne.
“There’s some unchanged business with the lads in the changing rooms – we’ve got to right a couple of wrongs come Saturday,” he said.