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Darren O'Dea reflects on the difficulties of playing in Ukraine

Former Celtic defender Darren O'Dea has told Sky Sports News HQ the political situation in eastern Ukraine made it virtually impossible to play there.

The Republic of Ireland international joined Metallurg Donetsk on a three-year contract in July 2013, but decided to return to the UK 13 months later following the outbreak of civil war in the area. The 28-year-old is currently playing for Blackpool in the Sky Bet Championship.

Russian separatists are fighting with the Ukrainian military making Donetsk and Crimea extremely dangerous.

From a sporting perspective, Metallurg and city neighbours Shakhtar have been unable to play football at their own stadiums.

Shakhtar's Donbass Arena has been damaged by shelling, and like Metallurg they have to play fixtures 600 miles away in Lviv.

Bayern Munich will travel to Arena Lviv on Tuesday night for their Champions League clash with Shakhtar, and O’Dea has sympathy for the Ukrainian team, having experienced the problems first hand.

"It's very difficult for myself going over, and there would have been difficulties anyway living there, but with the troubles the country has it just became nearly impossible to live in it," O’Dea said on The Morning View.

"It's just desperately sad to see everything that's happening just now. Only last night I was watching something on the news and it's obviously troubling times for them, so it becomes very, very difficult as a footballer to play there.

"It's well known all the trouble that's there, and I had a few experiences. I was stuck in the training ground for a few months because we weren't allowed really into the city.

"The Government building in Donetsk had been overtaken when I was there and daily the flag on top of the building would change from Russian to Ukrainian and there was a constant war going on.

"We travelled down to Crimea for a game and got held up at a fake Russian border, because they had announced Crimea was part of Russia. And getting off the bus we had to go to the toilet with people pointing machine guns at us, screaming at us, and it was then I realised it maybe wasn't for me and I needed to get out."


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