Sunday 19 January 2020

O'Dowda ignores the tweets to get his Ireland career going

FOCUS: Callum O’Dowda at Ireland squad training. Pic: Sportsfile
FOCUS: Callum O’Dowda at Ireland squad training. Pic: Sportsfile

In the very early days of a career which is still in the formation phase, Callum O'Dowda was given some advice.

"Someone s aid to me years ago at Oxford, you don't need to listen to anyone except your manager. It's good for your head I suppose," says the 24-year-old.

Those are words still in his head as the Bristol City man is not a fan of social media. Twitter and other social media outlets are treated like oxygen by some players. Richard Dunne, in his weekly columns for this newspaper, rails against what he calls "Intsagram players", Paul Pogba top of Dunne's hit list.

Even within the Ireland squad, it's a mixed bag. Some players seem to be addicted to social media (James McClean), going off twitter occasionally after a particular media storm but, like Michael Corleone "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in".

Sean Maguire is a regular. Other shun it completely, like Glenn Whelan. Despite being one of the younger members of the squad, O'Dowda is one of the old fogies.

"Just getting hate and stuff, you see it affects them. That's why I'm not on Twitter or Instagram, I don't have them on my phone," he says of fellow players.

"It's a big thing really. People don't see how it affects players. I haven't seen it this season but I have seen it in previous seasons, with younger players looking at what certain people are saying. I've not seen it at international level. I keep away from it.

"I just don't go looking for it, really. Having all the social media apps, you are going to get some stuff through.

"But, for example, I don't have twitter on my phone and even if close friends message me, I won't see it. The only way then can get me is through my phone number."

He says a player can get stick verbally at a match or in digital format.

"You can get on the pitch as well, so you'll get it regardless. But it's more on social media, because it is the Love Island generation.

"When I was at Oxford, you are getting the comments and the family hear it and you think to yourself that you don't want to leave yourself open to all that. So I can't remember the last time I went on twitter."

International football has been frustrating for O'Dowda, who shone so brightly on his debut in 2016 but has struggled of late.

"I remember when I first came in, it was just after the Euros and there was a lot of momentum with the team. Even though I wasn't playing that much at the time, I remember coming off each trip with a lot of positive results," he says.

"Results started to not go our way and you know what football is like, things change. It was a disappointing and frustrating year with the national side last year.

"But things are looking positive already, with the two results we've had, and hopefully we can get a result tomorrow."

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