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|Phil O'Donnell Irish Sports News Irish Message
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Former Celtic Phil O'Donnell and Scottish footballer Phil O'Donnell collapsed during game and died on the 29 December 2007. Phil O'Donnell collapsed as a result of heart failure during a game against Dundee United just as he was about to be substituted. He was treated on the pitch for about five minutes by the Motherwell and Dundee United club doctors before being taken by ambulance to Wishaw General Hospital. However, he was pronounced dead at 17.18 hours. He was just 35 years of age, married and had four children.
A Postmortem was carried out on January 1, 2008 and it was revealed O'Donnell died of heart failure.Despite this,no one is certain how he died.
"But for injury, I'm sure he would have had many, many more caps," said ex Scotland boss Brown, who gave O'Donnell his only honour.
He had two spells at Motherwell, the first successfully earning him a big-money move to Celtic and then Sheffield Wednesday.
But injuries meant he was released from the Yorkshire club and he was enjoying his second spell at Motherwell as club captain.
Brown helped develop O'Donnell's talents during his time as Scotland Under-21 coach and said he was a player of real promise.
In all my time in Scottish football I can't remember a bad word said about Phil O'Donnell and that speaks volumes considering what is usually said about footballers
Motherwell's former director of football Pat Nevin
"I think in his first spell at Motherwell he was probably the best box-to-box midfield player - maybe not just in Scotland but in the UK.
"He was a Steven Gerrard-type player. It was no surprise he joined Celtic. "There is no doubt that anyone who knew Phil O'Donnell knew he was a gentleman, a good family man, a courteous, polite, totally conscientious guy. "It's very, very sad news. I just can't get over it.
"I think everyone in the game will acknowledge what a wonderful player he was and an outstanding gentleman and I would expect to have a minute's applause at every ground in Scotland at the next fixture."
Phil O'Donnell in Celtic colours
Motherwell's match against Hibernian on 2 January has been postponed, as have the new year old firm fixture, at a request by Celtic as a mark of respect for O'Donnell.
O'Donnell was transferred to Celtic for a club record fee
The Fir Park club's next fixture, against Celtic, is currently under discussion.
Former Motherwell player and director of football at the club Pat Nevin said that O'Donnell's second spell with Motherwell cut short a return to form after an injury-blighted career.
"In all my time in Scottish football I can't remember a bad word said about Phil O'Donnell and that speaks volumes considering what is usually said about footballers," said Nevin.
"If a player ever deserved a Indian summer in his career it was Phil and he was having that at Motherwell - they were having a great time this year.
"He was club captain and he was making the very best of it. It was terribly tragic because he really deserved this period of happiness and success at Motherwell."
Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith was another who knew O'Donnell for many years.
"This is absolutely devastating news," he said.
"Phil was not just a wonderful footballer, he was a great human being."
Former First Minister Jack McConnell, MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw, thought the loss would be felt throughout Lanarkshire.
"Phil O'Donnell was a great professional who was admired by fellow players and fans alike," he said.
"As captain, he helped transform Motherwell this season.
Motherwell striker Chris Porter paid an emotional tribute to his team-mate O'Donnell.
"He was an amazing guy," said Porter, who joined Motherwell from Oldham in the summer.
"When I first came he was the first person I met. He came out especially to meet me.
"It's a massive loss to Motherwell. He was just a great player and a great person. Everyone will miss him."
Born in Bellshill, O'Donnell began his career with local team Motherwell F.C., making his first team debut in the 1990–91 season. He won a Scottish Cup winner's medal after scoring in a 4–3 victory over Dundee United in the final that year. That result earned Motherwell entry to European competition for the first time and O'Donnell became the club's youngest player in Europe, playing a tie against Polish side GKS Katowice. He won the Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year Award in 1992 and 1994, and he earned one cap for the Scotland national football team against Switzerland. This form made him a target for bigger clubs and he signed for Celtic in September 1994. The fee of £1.75m is the highest Motherwell have received for a player.
O'Donnell scored two goals in his debut for Celtic, and went on to win another Scottish Cup in 1995. He also earned his sole league winner's medal with the club in 1998, but injuries proved to be a major concern and his appearances for the club were limited. In 1999 O'Donnell was among a number of players who failed to agree terms on a new contract with Celtic chairman Fergus McCann, and instead signed for Sheffield Wednesday. Injuries continued to curtail his career and he played just one match in his first season (when the club were relegated from the Premier League). He went on to play just 20 times in four years for Sheffield Wednesday and was given a free transfer at the time of their relegation to Division Two in 2003.
O'Donnell returned to Scotland where former club Motherwell offered him the chance to train with them again. The Fir Park outfit re-signed him in January 2004, allowing him the chance to appear alongside his nephew, David Clarkson and earning him the club nickname, "Uncle Phil". He was also the uncle of St Mirren midfielder Stephen O'Donnell and Brian Dempsie who had also played for Motherwell. In his second spell at Motherwell, he was club captain.
* Scottish FA Cup (2): 1991, 1995
* Scottish Premier League (1): 1998
* Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year (2): 1992, 1994
Motherwell fans laid scarves, strips and pictures at the gates of Fir Park. The club's scheduled SPL game against Hibs at Easter Road the following Wednesday was postponed along with the club's home game with Celtic the following Sunday out of respect. Scottish Premier League chairman Lex Gold said: "We understand from Phil's family that they would appreciate it if the Motherwell v Celtic game scheduled for 6 January 2008 could be postponed. Both clubs are happy to meet the request and we have called the game off."
Players in 30 December's English Premier League matches between Derby County and Blackburn Rovers, and Manchester City and Liverpool F.C., wore black bands in his honour. Sheffield Wednesday's matches at Hull City and at home to Preston North End were preceded by a minutes applause as a mark of respect to their former player, with the Hillsborough flags flying at half mast.
Thousands of tributes from around the world have been posted on the internet. Mothwerwell site has received hundreds of written tributes from fans as far as Korea and Ukraine, as well as many emotional messages from Sevilla F.C., comparing O'Donnell's death to the similar tragedy of Antonio Puerta earlier in the season. Sevilla F.C. director of football Ramon Rodríguez Monchi has offered assistance and support to Motherwell F.C. and to the family of Phil O'Donnell.
In a club statement Sevilla sent their condolences to Fir Park after hearing about O'Donnell's death. The Primera Liga side's director of football Ramon Rodriguez Monchi said: "This is terrible news. Right now, my thoughts are with Phil's family and everybody at Motherwell. Unfortunately, with the death of Phil O'Donnell, Motherwell have suffered a similar tragedy to ours.
"Antonio Puerta died at the beginning of the season and I know how terrible the whole experience is. Sevilla will be available to help in any way that we are able, to heal the pain and sadness of this tragic loss."
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