Darren O'Dea to play on with East Kilbride while coaching at Motherwell

Darren O'Dea
Darren O'Dea made 22 appearances for Dundee this season

Darren O'Dea will play next season for Lowland League champions East Kilbride despite his appointment as Motherwell Under-18s coach.

The 32-year-old defender had announced he was retiring from playing full-time after leaving Dundee following their relegation from the Premiership.

That was to take up his first coaching role at Fir Park.

But he has now told BBC Scotland: "I've agreed to go down and help East Kilbride."

The former Celtic and Republic of Ireland centre-half explained that many had misread his statement after ending his three-year spell with Dundee, pointing out he had only retired from playing "full-time".

Part-timers East Kilbride have won the Lowland League twice in the last three years but have lost out in the play-offs both times.

"I have lived in East Kilbride for 16 years and they are a club I know well and they are desperate to go up into the leagues," O'Dea, who made 22 appearances this season, said. "It is a big town and I can see a bright future for them."

However, he stressed that the job at Motherwell is "obviously the priority for me".

"I've already done wee bits of work towards next season and I'm really looking forward to it," he said.

"One thing I'm certain on is that I want to be a manager, but not for a long time."

At 31, former Jamaica, Motherwell and Preston North End winger Chris Humphrey is leaving East Kilbride to become player-manager of Lowland League rivals Gretna 2008.

O'Dea, though, insists he wants to learn his trade as a youth coach before progressing.

"The workload of a manager is massive," he explained. "Coaching the team is probably the easiest part and I can't even do that just yet.

"I am very clear that I don't see going from playing to coaching as natural. So I'm starting at the very beginning and I know I am a long way from stepping into a manager's shoes."

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