Dundee travel to Glasgow on Saturday to take on Celtic and so we take a look at a player who has captained both clubs, current Dark Blues skipper Darren O’Dea.
Born in Dublin, O’Dea played for Home Farm before he was signed by Celtic as a teenager and made his way through the reserves and academy side to make his first-team debut aged 19 in the Scottish League Cup against St Mirren in September 2006. A month later, O’Dea made his league debut against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, playing the last 30 minutes after coming on for Gary Caldwell.
Within two months Darren was playing Champions League football when he came on for Stephen McManus away at FC Copenhagen in December and at the end of the month scored his first professional goal against Dundee United as Celtic fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 shortly before Darren’s 20th birthday.
He turned out over 50 times for Celtic with his crowning moment coming as he scored the first goal in a 2-0 League Cup final win over Rangers in 2009 for which he is fondly remembered at Parkhead.
The following season he spent time on loan in the English Championship with Reading before returning to be a regular in the Celtic first team where he captained the side after McManus went on loan to Middlesbrough and Caldwell left for Wigan.
Darren then had two further loan spells in the Championship down south. Firstly a season long spell with Ipswich before returning for another season in the same division, this time with Leeds United
His next move saw him leave Celtic Park on a permanent basis and he moved to the MLS to join Toronto FC in 2012. Darren then joined Ukrainian side FC Metalurh Donetsk before moving back to England on a short term deal with Blackpool.
In the summer of 2015, Darren joined Nicolas Anelka’s Mumbai City in the Indian Super League club moving on after the end of their season in December.
Before coming to Dens O’Dea won 20 full caps for the Republic of Ireland after also captaining the Under-21 side and he won the Ireland Young International Player of the Year Award in 2012.
He was first called up in May 2008, in Giovanni Trapattoni‘s first squad as Ireland manager but had to wait for 16 months for his senior-team international debut in a 1–0 friendly win over South Africa at Thomond Park in Limerick as a 60th-minute substitute for Paul McShane.
In 2011 O’Dea was part of the Ireland squad which won the Carling Nations Cup, coming on as a sub against Wales and starting in the final match against Scotland in which they lifted the trophy.
The following year O’Dea was part of the Ireland squad that went to Euro 2012 and although he didn’t get any game time, he did score his first international goal just after the tournament with an 88th-minute header, in a World Cup qualifying match against the Faroe Islands in October, which Ireland won 4–1.
O’Dea joined Dundee in January 2016 and made his Dark Blue debut in a 4-2 win over Partick Thistle at Firhill and his home debut two weeks later in a 2-2 draw with Motherwell.
Darren made a made a great impression on and off the park and quickly became a key component of the Dark Blues’ defence and signed a three year extension to his deal in April as the Dark Blues secured a top six finish.
Last season, in the long term absence of skipper James McPake, O’Dea was captaining the side and scored his first goal for the club in the 6-2 Betfred Cup win over Dumbarton at Dens in July.
He scored a further four times in the 2016/17 season and stepped up to the plate as penalty taker in the two games against Ross County in April and May. After the second one at Dens, O’Dea sprinted towards and jumped into the South Enclosure; a celebration that will be talked about for years to come as the Dark Blues survival was secured.
A favourite with the Dark Blue support O’Dea was appointed as club captain by new manager Neil McCann in the summer of 2017 and he will be relishing facing his old club with whom he won not only that League Cup but also two SPL titles and one Scottish Cup.