Jack O’Connell has been one of the key men for Sheffield United this season.
The former Brentford man has once again excelled at left centre-back. Just as he did in League One and the Championship, O’Connell has continued to bomb on down the flank to create overloads.
The Liverpool born defender will once again be in action this Sunday. The Blades welcome 13-time Premier League champions, Manchester United, to Bramall Lane.
It’s a big game for O’Connell. Born and bred on Merseyside and a Liverpool fan, no game is bigger for him in terms of getting three points.
Amazingly, O’Connell and United go into the game ahead of their Manchester rivals. Sitting fifth in the table and with the second meanest defence in the league, some have been surprised by United’s success thus far.
However, speaking to the BBC yesterday, O’Connell appeared to reveal some of the secrets to his success.
“Me and John Lundstram, we go and do yoga on our days off”, O’Connell said.
“Some days we might go and do some pads as well. It’s all about keeping the routine and discipline. We go for a haircut every week, too.
“It’s a bit of a superstition. We even go for breakfast at the same place on a Wednesday”.
Those superstitions appear to be paying dividends for O’Connell and Lundstram. While O’Connell has impressed at the back, Lundstram is the club’s joint top scorer, with three Premier League goals already.
United reaping the rewards of O’Connell’s mindset
It was so refreshing to hear a player who seemed to fully appreciate their career and time in the limelight.
There was no getting carried away from O’Connell. No ‘big time Charlie’ attitude. Just a will to work, improve, and do as well as he can for Sheffield United and his manager.
The defender harped back to some of his earlier days in the interview, too. He insisted some of his early days boxing have influenced some aspects of his footballing life.
“My boxing coach back in Liverpool. He’s the one who got me into fitness and discipline”, O’Connell said when quizzed on his biggest coaching influences.
“Getting up at 6 in the morning before school and going to do boxing. I think that’s where the discipline has come into it. I wouldn’t say boxing as a sport has played a big part. But the discipline and extra training that’s come with it plays a part. I’ll always try and do something extra”
Those last few words from Jack O’Connell sum him up. It’s that sort of attitude and want to improve what has served the club so well.
A win over Manchester United this weekend, then, would truly round off a remarkable rise for O’Connell and the Blades.