O'Donnell frustrated he never quite showed his best for Luton
Defender Stephen O'Donnell left Kenilworth Road for the final time at the weekend with a tinge of disappointment that he never quite showed the Hatters fans his full potential.
The right back signed from Partick Thistle in the summer of 2015 and made 72 appearances in total for the club, scoring four goals, although never fully won supporters over with his displays on the right hand side of Town’s back-line.
When asked about his two year stint, he said: “I don’t know if I’d say enjoyment because the reality was as much as I played, a decent amount of games, I felt I’ve had an impact off the park, maybe a bit bigger than on the park.
“I’ve done my best, done everything I could, I’m just a wee bit disappointed with how it went personally over the two years.
“There was a couple of games I felt I did well, but overall I didn’t think I performed to a level I could and should.
“I also think that as a team we could have performed a lot better in many games as well, but I look at myself first and I need to do my bit.
“If I’m not doing my bit, I can’t look at others, so for myself, there’s lot of disappointment. I’d say regret, but regret is a bit strong as I do feel I did everything to be performing at my best, I just didn’t manage to.
“I was a part of 39 games this season, so it’s not as if I was hardly ever used, so it’s a wee bit sad, but I haven’t performed how I would have liked to.
“I would have loved to have been offered a contract, but I’ve left on good terms with the manager, enjoyed working with the boys, they’re a great group of lads.
“We had a meeting Saturday and the gaffer said a few words. The overall disappointment throughout the club was overwhelming and it puts it in perspective a little thing like you getting released.
“I’ve played enough games, I should be okay to find another club, I’m just more disappointed for everyone else.
“We really should have finished further up and got automatic, but next year hopefully I’m sure with the gaffer leading it, that automatic will be exactly what will happen.”
On what was discussed during his chat with Jones, O’Donnell continued: “He said I’m not going to be first choice, JJ (James Justin) has done well, he’s looking to push on and I’m sure he will, under the right guidance.
“I’m sure he’ll kick on again, but that was something I’d thought for a while and I was prepared to find another club, a new challenge.
“I had loved it though, I was settled, was going moving down with my will-be wife in the summer, it was great.
“Playing at a big club was something that was important to me. I could have gone to League One, a smaller club before I came, I didn’t want to, I wanted to try and make a big club thrive again.
“I’m just disappointed I’ve not managed to bring my best performances to Luton, something I hope I’ll put to bed next season wherever that is, and hope there’s not that much resentment if I do as I’ve always tried my best for Luton.”
O’Donnell didn’t feel that his main competitor being a homegrown player from Luton had anything to do with his inability to force Justin, who has quickly become a fans favourite, out of the side either, adding: “That would be wrong for me to say that.
“JJ’s a great player and I’d say at any club a young player is going to be encouraged, whether he’s from Luton or any part of the country.
“I’d hope if I was a young Scottish player coming through at Luton and done what he did in his first couple of games that I would be getting encouraged to thrive.
“He’s done great, I think things could have been different, but at the end of the day I gave him a chance by being part of two defeats at Grimsby and Crawley, the gaffer felt he needed to change.
“He’d been doing well pre-season, but the jersey was mine, and no matter what were the fans were thinking, if I had kept my performances high enough, it wouldn’t have even been in the gaffers mind.
“JJ’s done well and I’m sure with the backing of the fans, he’ll kick on. I’m sure he will, he’s a level headed boy and I’m sure he will go on to have a great career.”