COT­TAGE COM­FORT

Jamie O’Hara is lov­ing life at Ful­ham af­ter re­turn­ing to Lon­don

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Felix Keith

JAMIE O’Hara’s ca­reer was at a cross­roads this sum­mer, but af­ter two years of “sac­ri­fice” the much-trav­elled midfielder in­sists he’s found a home at Craven Cot­tage.

O’Hara showed early signs of prom­ise at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, but be­came a per­pet­ual loa­nee and failed to re­cover af­ter miss­ing from the spot in a shootout against Manch­ester United in the 2009 Cap­i­tal One Cup fi­nal.

The 29-year-old then suf­fered con­sec­u­tive rel­e­ga­tions with Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers, be­fore another ill-fated spell with Black­pool last sea­son ended with de­mo­tion to League One.

But – af­ter per­son­ally reach­ing out to Kit Sy­mons in the sum­mer – it seems he has set­tled into some much-needed sta­bil­ity in the Cham­pi­onship with Ful­ham.

Pres­ence

“I feel like ev­ery­thing that I sac­ri­ficed a few years ago has been worth it,” said the for­mer Eng­land U21 in­ter­na­tional.

“To take a cou­ple of steps back and to get to this point now is fan­tas­tic. I can’t ask for any­thing more from Kit. He put his faith in me and I thank him a lot for that.

“He was the one who got me into the football club and he was the one who got me to stay, so I owe a mas­sive thanks to him for get­ting me into the team.

“I feel sharp again. We had a great pre-sea­son. Ev­ery­thing seems to be go­ing well, so I just want to stay fit and make sure I stay in the team.”

Three months into his Ful­ham ca­reer and O’Hara has al­ready won over the Cot­tagers’ faith­ful with a bright start that has brought back mem­o­ries of his early days at White Hart Lane.

With cap­tain Scott Parker side­lined through in­jury, he has in­her­ited an im­por­tant lead­er­ship role in the cen­tre of the pitch, play­ing along­side Tom Cair­ney and Ryan Tun­ni­cliffe.

On his 29th birth­day, O’Hara helped Ful­ham to a crush­ing 4-0 vic­tory over west Lon­don ri­vals Queens Park Rangers – with his in­tel­li­gent dis­tri­bu­tion, con­trol­ling pres­ence and energy the cat­a­lyst for the win.

And while he was un­able to get one over his old club Wolves on Tues­day, O’Hara is en­joy­ing his deep-ly­ing play­maker role.

“It has al­ways been a po­si­tion that I liked, it was just about get­ting into the right team and the right po­si­tion, that was the key,” added O’Hara. “I can go and get the ball ev­ery­where; that’s my game – to get the ball as much as pos­si­ble.

“Moussa Dem­bele and Ross McCor­mack make it re­ally easy for me. I know where they’re go­ing to be, so I can hit one-touch passes around the cor­ner.

“It seems like it’s fi­nally com­ing to­gether. Ev­ery­thing is click­ing and hope­fully we can con­tinue to do that. It is a new group of play- ers. We have only just come to­gether but we are now def­i­nitely start­ing to gel. Ev­ery­one seems to know what they are do­ing.”

Ac­co­lades

O’Hara may have be­come ac­cus­tomed to play­ing for sides on the slide, but his pos­i­tive ap­proach to life is clear: his Twit­ter bi­og­ra­phy reads ‘never give up on your dreams’.

It seems that – with rel­e­ga­tions be­hind him – the move to Ful­ham has given him the plat­form he needs to be­gin to put that sen­ti­ment into prac­tice.

It is easy to for­get that O’Hara was voted Portsmouth’s player of the sea­son while on loan at Frat­ton Park in 2009-10 – the year Pom­pey lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup fi­nal – and the midfielder also won the same ac­co­lade last sea­son at Black­pool.

Now, with the ben­e­fits of a full pre-sea­son and a run with­out se­ri­ous in­jury be­hind him, he’s de­ter­mined to make up for any lost time.

“If we put in per­for­mances like we did against QPR ev­ery week, we stay con­fi­dent, to­gether and keep graft­ing, then we’ve def­i­nitely got a chance of mak­ing the play-offs,” he added.

“To be a part of this football club is fan­tas­tic. We know that when we put in per­for­mances and work to­gether that not many teams in this league are able to deal with us.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

FULL CON­TROL: Jamie O’Hara is en­joy­ing a deeply­ing mid­field role af­ter his sum­mer move to Ful­ham

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