Chris O'Neil interview

10th March 2013

WHAT WAS IT LIKE MAKING YOUR DEBUT?
I loved it. I wasn't expecting it, having only been playing with the U19s since August. I pulled my hamstring against Rangers (reserves) and was out injured, then came back and played a game and the gaffer put me in the squad for the Livingston game. I thought it would just be for a bit of experience but I ended up starting. Even though I gave away the penalty and the free-kick it was still magic. 

AND THIS IS YOUR FIRST SEASON WITH US?
Yeah, I was with Motherwell for seven years until Christmas 2011 then I went to Hamilton and Partick and they couldn't give me anything. After that I came to Airdrie trials and Stephen Findlay got my number and from there I signed. I was mostly in the U19s until the Livingston game, then I had a couple more games there and now I'm in the first team.

DID YOU EXPECT TO COME THIS FAR IN SUCH A SHORT TIME?
No, I didn't even expect to get anywhere near the first team. When I first said to my dad I just hoped before the season started that I could keep playing in the U19s every week. Now I've ended up playing a good few first team games. It's mental. You don't expect that when you're just starting out.

YOU'RE STILL AT SCHOOL TOO?
Yeah, I'm in sixth year at St Ambrose. 

IS IT WEIRD GOING IN ON MONDAY MORNING AND PEOPLE ASK YOU ABOUT PLAYING FIRST TEAM FOOTBALL IN THE FIRST DIVISION?
Haha it is! They always ask. I got booked in my first few games and they were all slagging me because of it. They can't believe it, but they've came to see me a few times which is good. 

BECAUSE YOU'RE SO YOUNG, DO YOU ASK SOME OF THE OLDER PLAYERS FOR ADVICE?
Yeah, mostly David Lilley because he's a defender as well. He helps me and speaks to me a lot, he's brilliant. I speak to all of them, they all tell me what to do and if I'm doing anything wrong. Even Grant, Marc and Gregor. Lils is old (!) but he's had a great career and played SPL football.

I SUPPOSE THAT'S YOUR AIM?
I'd love that, but who knows. Playing with Airdrie's brilliant anyway, and the First Division is a good level. Partick and Morton show it and they could give SPL teams a game I'm sure.


Interview by Douglas Barrie. 

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