Goalkeeper feels Latics match his ambitions and tells fans that he wants to build a relationship with them in the way he did with those at previous club Walsall.
- O’Donnell – “I’m looking forward to getting started.
- ”Walsall Player of the Year says League One not to be underestimated.
- Former Sheffield Wednesday man excited by competition with former Owls Scott Carson and Lee Nicholls.
Wigan Athletic’s second summer signing Richard O’Donnell says he was convinced the best next step in his career would be a move to the DW Stadium after a chat with manager Gary Caldwell, chairman David Sharpe and goalkeeping coach Mike Pollitt.
O’Donnell, who won the Player of the Year for Walsall last season after his impressive displays helped the Saddlers progress to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at Wembley, said the club’s ambition to return to the Championship at the first attempt matches his own and he can’t wait to get started.
“I’m delighted, it’s been a long few weeks and I had a few decisions to make and I’m convinced I’ve made the right one,” the 26-year-old said.
“I’m looking forward to getting started in a few weeks’ time.
“Having sat down with the manager, the chairman and Mike Pollitt and listened to their plans moving forwards, I knew it was the right place to be.
“The club is really ambitious and that matches my ambitions because I want to go and play in the Championship and I think this is the right club to go and do that with and I’m more than confident that it will happen this year.
“This place really appeals to me and they really sold it to me.”
O’Donnell’s abundance of Football League games, especially in the third tier, makes him a valuable asset for his age and he has warned Latics that League One is not to be underestimated.
“There are a lot of good teams in the division and I don’t think it’s to be underestimated; there are a lot of teams that like to play football but, at the same time, it’s a division that, if you do play the right way, you can get out of and that’s the way I believe Wigan Athletic are going to go about it,” he explained.
“From the club’s point of view, it’s exciting and it’s something the club is more than capable of doing.”
O’Donnell, who feels his strengths lie in distribution and communication, is expecting heavy competition from two former Sheffield Wednesday stoppers in Scott Carson and Lee Nicholls, the latter a player he competed with for the number one spot at Hillsborough.
“I think making saves is a given as a goalkeeper so I wouldn’t highlight that as a strength but I think my kicking is very good and I’m commanding in my area, a good communicator and the defenders will be able to trust me,” O’Donnell continued.
“I’m always looking to improve; any player that tells you they’ve got nothing to improve on would be lying and I’m no different.
“James Tavernier and Lee Nicholls were with me at Sheffield Wednesday but pre-season will be all about getting to know my new teammates.
“I never shy away from competition, I’m looking forward to getting games and the aim is to play every week but I know that’s something I’ll have to earn. I’ve had a couple of years of playing every single game.”
O’Donnell did want to place on record his gratitude to Walsall Football Club for their support during his time with the club and he says he hopes to build a similar rapport with Latics fans to that he had with those at
“The last two years have been brilliant for me; I’ve played regularly, had a great relationship with the fans and I think that they saw that I was passionate, don’t like to lose and I like to win games,” he said.
“Coming to this club, I’m hoping for the same. I know the fans here want passion from the players and commitment and I hate conceding goals and that will come across in how I play and how I am on the pitch.”