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11:24:49 AM
Tributes flood in for O'Donnell
Tributes flood in for O'Donnell
Motherwell midfielder Phil O'Donnell
O'Donnell had two successful spells with Motherwell
Former Scotland boss Craig Brown led the tributes to Motherwell's Phil O'Donnell, 35, who collapsed and died during their match with Dundee United.

"But for injury, I'm sure he would have had many, many more caps," said Brown, who gave O'Donnell his only honour.

Former Motherwell boss Terry Butcher added: "He was the perfect role model to any young professional."

Motherwell have postponed their next fixture and are expected to announce further tribute plans on Sunday.

Former England captain Butcher added: "Phil was part of a very big and a very strong family and they'll need that strength now because you just can't imagine a professional footballer getting prepared for a game, playing the game and then not going back home.

"Everybody loved him, I don't know anyone in the game who did not like Phil O'Donnell."

O'Donnell was thought to have suffered some form of seizure and leaves behind a wife and four young children.

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," he said.

"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."

Motherwell's match against Hibernian on 2 January has been postponed, but all the other Scottish Premier League games on that day will go ahead as planned.

Phil O'Donnell in Celtic colours
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.

"Phil will be sadly missed by his family and by football fans, but he will be mourned by the whole community."

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."
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