When Jay O’Shea moved from Bury to Brisbane, the last thing he probably expected would have been matches against Barcelona, Leeds United and Aston Villa within a couple of months.
He also wouldn’t have expected not to have seen his old teammate Liam Cooper, from their playing days at Chesterfield, for three years due to a global pandemic.
But, such is the wonderful world of football that on Thursday night, on the Gold Coast, O’Shea’s Brisbane Roar will face Cooper’s Leeds United, in a pre-season friendly – the first time he has seen him since his own wedding.
Cooper is officially out of contention for the first of Leeds’ friendlies – probably a good thing for his pre-season given O’Shea’s plans if he was fit!
“We played together at Chesterfield for a few years, won a title together and are still really good friends,” he said.
“I caught up with him since he’s been here.
“I’m not sure if he’s going to play tomorrow night, but if he does I’ll try kick him!”
He continued: “The last time I (saw) him would’ve been my wedding. Then I wasn’t able to get back due to COVID, so it was good to catch up with him.
“He’s done really well now since we both went separate ways, he went on to play for Scotland and captain Leeds. He’s had a great career now, and fair play to him.”
Speaking during the trip on the Gold Coast, Cooper said: “Jay’s told me how fit you need to be to play in the A-League, and as team we’re expecting a hard game, and one we can enjoy and hopefully try to implement what we’ve been practising.”
O’Shea has been magnificent since arriving in Brisbane, and after earning selection in the A-Leagues All Stars, held his own against Barcelona, where he pocketed a jersey from one of his favourite players, Sergio Busquets.
“It’s brilliant to have everyone here… it’s only going to be good for the game, and hopefully good for the league as well,” he enthused.
It certainly wasn’t a fixture list he expected when he made his move, but it is a new part of the attraction for those contemplating a move to the A-Leagues.
“I didn’t think so (that I would get these opportunities), but absolutely buzzing after playing the Barcelona game.
“Then to hear there were two Premier League teams coming out, it’s great to test yourself against (those) type of players. Hopefully they keep coming out for many years to come, because it’s great for our game of football.
“With Australia qualifying for the World Cup now, that’s going to be great as well.”
The timing does present challenges for Isuzu UTE A-League sides; Roar are a month into their pre-season, with the A-Leagues season only resuming in October.
But the opportunity means each player will be ready to test – and prove – themselves.
“It eats into our off-season, but you don’t mind coming in early when you’re playing against (these) teams. Hopefully there are going to be good crowds there, we’re all looking forward to it and hopefully we can put on a good show.”
He continued: “I’m looking forward to seeing (Philippe) Coutinho up close and personal when we play against Villa; it would have been nice to see (Leeds United’s) Raphinha (but he has moved to Barcelona).
“I think it’s going to be brilliant for the young lads to see what they’re aspiring to, if they want to go and try play overseas, to see the level these players are playing at is going to be really good for everyone.”