James Shield in Marbella: Why Sheffield United’s Jack O’Connell is mad about Malaga FC

Jack O'Connell watched Malaga when he and his family lived in Spain
Jack O'Connell watched Malaga when he and his family lived in Spain
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Jack O’Connell knows all about Malaga FC. After all, he grew-up watching them.

“I watched them plenty of times when I lived here, I even had a season ticket. We used to go every weekend and it’s a good game for me personally to be involved in so, to be honest, I can’t wait.”

Sheffield United in training in Spain

Sheffield United in training in Spain

O’Connell, the Sheffield United centre-half, spent four years living on the Costa Del Sol as a youngster before returning to England in his teens. It was that spell in Spain - “Mum just decided she wanted a change” - which proved the catalyst for an interest which continues to this day.

“I still watch lots of La Liga now but it’s going to be totally different playing in this heat,” O’Connell, speaking ahead of tonight’s friendly between the two teams in Coin, said. “They, the Spanish, keep the ball probably better than anyone so we don’t want to be giving it away cheaply. It’s going to be a great learning experience and one I’m really looking forward too.”

Duda was the player O’Connell most admired during his trips to Malaga. But, having recently announced his departure from La Rosaleda, the 23-year-old will be denied an opportunity to meet the Portuguese following this evening’s match.

“I used to like him because he scored lots of free-kicks,” O’Connell said. “That really stood out for me. We don’t get the chance to play foreign teams that often, so it will be good to test ourselves against the best.”

“Hopefully we put on a good show.”

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