Luke McCullough: Developing at Manchester United, Doncaster memories and Glentoran

Credit: Glentoran FC

You currently play for Glentoran FC having signed in 2020. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how would you describe a club such as Glentoran FC?

I am really enjoying my time at Glentoran FC and it is the first time that I have ever played professional football back home in Northern Ireland so that is something different for me.

Credit: Ross / geograph.org.uk

I was in England for ten years having moved over when I was 16 years old and I am 26 years old now and ten years away from home is quite a long time but to be fair the time flew in and certainly did not feel like ten years and I am enjoying being able to go home and see my family everyday after training whereas in England I never really got to do that so that is one particular side that I am enjoying.

The football is also good our domestic season has not started yet but I have enjoyed pre season, training has been good and I have settled in well with the lads and I am looking forward to getting the league started and get a bit of a routine going.

You played six seasons for Doncaster Rovers making many appearances for the club. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

Credit: Chris / Doncaster Racecourse and site of Doncaster Airfield: aerial 2018 / CC BY-SA 2.0

Yes, I had a few good times at Doncaster Rovers. I signed as a young player when they were actually in the Championship and I was not expecting to play in many games but I played 15 games in the Championship that season which was a great introduction to professional football and it was a steep learning curve and I learned a lot in my first season and then after suffering relegation I ended up playing in three different leagues for Doncaster Rovers – Championship, League One and League Two.

I also had a few injuries along the way as well. A few up’s and down’s. The promotion was a highlight having done my cruciate at the start of the 2016/2017 season and when I came back I played in the games that got us promoted back to League One and I also made some good friends along the way in Doncaster too and I enjoyed my time at the club.

You have a spell in the youth setup at Manchester United. How do you look back in the youth setup of arguably the biggest club in the world and did you learn anything in particular which stood you in good stead for your career as a professional footballer?

Credit: Austin Osuide

It was obviously an unbelievable time and you probably slightly take it for granted when you are at the club. Manchester United have unbelievable facilities, players and Sir Alex Ferguson was still the manager at the time and there is no better man to learn from at the top of the club. Manchester United are renowned for bringing up well grounded players and they instill that mentality in you. They keep your feet on the ground and I learned things everyday just being at the club and being close to good people, players so it would be hard not to learn anything.

Credit: DanielXu

You have accrued experience at club and international level. Could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

Credit: Biser Todorov

I trained with some top players at Manchester United. When I moved into the reserve team Paul Scholes had retired and was training and coaching the reserves everyday and he would also join in training and he was unbelievable. Johnny Evans and Steven Davis for Northern Ireland they are both always so consistent and always at the top of their game and they never let the team down. Those two players stand out and on a club level I would say James Coppinger at Doncaster Rovers. He has been at the club for about 16 and he is still playing at the age of 39.

Credit: Doncaster Rovers FC

I can imagine in your position as a defender and defensive midfielder that you have come up against some difficult opponents through the years. Could you say which opponents have stood out in terms of talent and ability?

Credit: Кирилл Венедиктов

Well in my second ever match for Northern Ireland we played Chile and we were doing really well and we managed to keep them at bay it was 0-0 for well over an hour and then Alexis Sanchez came off the bench for the last half and hour and completely changed the game and nobody could really get near him. He stood out as an opponent and he was so sharp and lively and Chile ended up winning 2-0 and I think he was the reason that happened.

Finally Luke. Could you say who are the coaches and managers that have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

Credit: T.Bednarz / Fotíme Česko

I would have to mention Michael O’Neil of Northern Ireland. He showed good faith in me as a young player and he took me and included me in Euro 2016 and his attention to detail is second to none and he always had the team well prepared and he knew every opponent so well.

Credit: Jon Candy

From a club level Darren Ferguson he was the manager he though he could see me playing as a defensive midfielder and he moved me into that position and I also enjoyed his training, his coaching was very good. Darren Ferguson also had in his Dad someone that he could learn a lot off. Sir Alex Ferguson is a legend and what he achieved will never be done again in my opinion.

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