Luke O’Nien has been the unexpected success story of the season at Sunderland. Few expected that the midfielder, signed from Wycombe Wanderers in the summer, would become a huge fan favourite. An accomplished midfielder, O’Nien is unexpectedly making the right-back spot his own, and all with a huge smile on his face.
Every Club Could Do With a Player Like Luke O’Nien
Little Know Midfielder From Wycombe
When Sunderland completed the signing of Luke O’Nien during the summer, few would have known much about him. The 24-year-old box-to-box midfielder had helped Wycombe Wanderers to promotion last season. A host of clubs were interested in his services after scoring nine goals and winning the Player of the Year award. However, Jack Ross and Sunderland won the race to add O’Nien to the squad.
Happy to Be at the Club
The Black Cats’ new signing was delighted to be at the club. At the time, he said: “It’s a huge honour because it’s such a big club. The last few days have been pretty manic for me and it’s all happened so fast, but I’m delighted to be here, and I can’t thank the club enough for giving me the opportunity.”
Initially, O’Nien seemed a little star struck by his new surroundings and teammates. However, he rapidly adapted to his new home and quickly began to gain praise.
Happy to Play Anywhere
O’Nien had established himself as a very good midfielder at Wycombe. At Sunderland, competition would be more fierce. Although he was making occasional appearances in his favoured role, the Black Cats’ early season form restricted his game time. This, however, did not dent his confidence. He is a player happy to play anywhere to play the game he loves, as long as it benefits the team, of course.
Making Right-Back Position his Own
When Jack Ross found himself short of cover at right-back, O’Nien stepped forward. He was asked if he had ever played in the position before. Desperate to play his part, he said “Yes”; however, the coach who asked him may not have known that this was a lie.
”I’ve played there in training, I’ve watched people play there, I thought yes was the right answer and I picked it up fast. I learn fast. I had Flans ]Tom Flanagan] next to me and he helped me out so I was more than happy to play there. Right-back, left-back, it doesn’t really matter to me – I know what I need to do. I did well and I got good feedback. I’ve looked at some of my footage so if we have any more injuries or anything like that the manager knows I’m ready to go.”
Since that day, O’Nien has made the right-back position his own. His overall performances, which have included vital goals and assists, has kept Welsh international Adam Matthews out of the side.
Praised On and Off the Pitch
The praise he has received of late is undoubtedly well deserved. He is fast becoming one of the first names on Jack Ross’s team sheet. Off the field, he has impressed his boss with his willingness to learn and to improve his game. His passion and determination on the field has earned praise too.
The former Wycombe and Watford man has endeared himself to supporters since his arrival. Fans have been used to players not interacting, not being interested and in some cases not interested in playing for the club the fans love.
O’Nien and his new teammates have changed this. O’Nien was one of those players who helped fans change seats within the stadium. He took the train home with supporters after an away game at Plymouth, spending his time chatting about the game and his time at the club.
O’Nien is a bubbly, upbeat person who is doing the thing he loves. Whenever possible he will do it with a smile on his face like any supporter would in his position.
Sunderland fans have not had too many players like O’Nien of late, and if other clubs had players like him, football would be much better for it.