Darren O’Dea has taken his next step on the coaching ladder after becoming part of Celtic’s ‘B’ team set-up.
The former Hoops defender will join Tommy McIntyre in the dugout after spending the past two years in charge of the club’s under-18 squad.
O’Dea, capped 20 times by the Republic of. Ireland, had spells at Leeds United, Toronto, Mumbai City and Dundee during a 14-year playing career.
His Parkhead promotion will allow the 34-year-old to take training sessions with the aim of developing Celtic’s youngsters on a pathway that will lead them to the first-team.
O’Dea admits the transition into his new role has been straightforward and insists he will continue to pick the brains of first-team manager Ange Postecoglou and coach John Kennedy where possible.
Speaking to the Celtic official website, he said: “I really enjoyed the last two years and working with the Under-18s was fantastic, but the offer to come up and obviously the change in scenery – in terms of from working at Celtic Park with the U-18s and now Lennoxtown – has been brilliant.
“A lot has changed with the players hasn’t been huge because the vast majority I have worked for some sort of period with the 18s, some of them for longer than others, so the players know me and I certainly know them.
“Pivotal to the role here is the access you get to how the first-team work and getting to see that daily, and being around them, albeit I’m not working directly with them.
“But you get a lot of access and that’s part of the job I suppose – being up and around and seeing how things work, and that has been invaluable for me.
“In taking this role, I had the full intention of maximising every bit of information I could get and every learning experience I could get, and the manager’s been fantastic with everyone.
“I can only speak from a personal point of view, but he’s been brilliant, and any time I’ve needed anything or wanted to ask a question, he’s very accommodating and very clear. So it’s been fantastic as a young coach to learn from that.
“And I have to mention John Kennedy in that as well because John’s obviously been here for the just over two years I’ve been in and any time I’ve gone to him for advice or an opinion, or even just a conversation, you always get tenfold what you expect back.”
Celtic’s ‘B’ side are currently playing in the Lowland League this season where they sit in ninth place after winning seven of their opening 12 games.
O’Dea knows working at the Lennoxtown Training Centre near the first-team squad will prove beneficial to the development of the club’s exciting academy youngsters and his own as a coach.
He highlighted the progression of defender Adam Montgomery, who is now an integral part of the Postecoglou’s first-team, as an example of what can be achieved given hard work and dedication.
O’Dea added: “When the players first come, of course they’ve got big aspirations and they want to conquer the world, if you like, but the reality hits when you come up to Lennoxtown – you’re one pitch away from the first-team at all times.
“The first-team regularly dip into the B team for training numbers. It usually happens before training but it can happen during training, so they don’t know when the opportunity is going to come, and that realisation of all the talk we did when they were 16 and they first came in, they’re much closer than what they maybe understand.
“They have to be in a rhythm of training every day and being prepared right. I don’t think you’ll get a better example of that than last year with the whole reserve team going up for a two-week period.
“Now the person who’s stayed there since then is Adam Montgomery. He’s never came back but if you went and watched him train two or three months previous to that, he was just constantly in a rhythm of training, doing the right things and when that opportunity came in the most bizarre circumstances, he was there to take advantage of it.
“So it’s a key message for them – those dreams you’re talking about, albeit the step is absolutely huge, it might not be as far away as you think.”