Eunan O'Kane

Eunan Charles O'Kane (/ˈjnən/ YOO-nən; born 10 July 1990) is an Irish professional footballer who is currently playing for Championship club Luton Town after signing from Leeds United on an 18-month loan arrangement.[2] He has also played for the Republic of Ireland national team. O'Kane plays as a midfielder or attacking midfield playmaker.

Eunan O'Kane
Personal information
Full name Eunan Charles O'Kane[1]
Date of birth (1990-07-10) 10 July 1990 (age 30)
Place of birth Feeny, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Position(s) Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Luton Town
Youth career
2007–2009 Everton
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2009–2010 Coleraine 13 (4)
2010–2012 Torquay United 106 (12)
2012–2016 Bournemouth 101 (2)
2016–2021 Leeds United 56 (0)
2018Luton Town (loan) 3 (0)
2020–21Luton Town (loan) 0 (0)
National team
2005–2006 Northern Ireland U16 2 (0)
2006–2007 Northern Ireland U17 7 (0)
2008 Northern Ireland U19 7 (1)
2011 Northern Ireland U20 1 (0)
2008–2010 Northern Ireland U21 4 (1)
2012 Republic of Ireland U21 5 (0)
2016–2017 Republic of Ireland 7 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 08:05, 17 September 2018 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 09:35, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

He was named as a standby for Republic of Ireland's squad for Euro 2016 but wasn't included in the final 23-man squad for the tournament.[3]

Early life

O'Kane grew up in Feeny, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the eldest child of Charlie O'Kane and Lorraine O'Kane.[4] He has one younger sister, Cora. O'Kane played gaelic football in his youth for Banagher GAC while his father helped to coach the Derry GAA hurling minors to their last Ulster title success in 2001. O'Kane went to primary school in St. Canice's and received second-level education in St. Patrick's College, Maghera. He joined Maiden City Soccer Academy at the age of 10 and was being scouted by Manchester City among other clubs from the age of 12. O'Kane decided to give up Gaelic football at the age of 16 to instead focus on his association football career.


O'Kane spent two years with Everton as a youth team player before joining Coleraine in September 2009.[5] At Coleraine, O'Kane scored on his professional league debut in a 3–2 loss against Glenavon and in his 10th appearance, O'Kane scored a double in a 3–0 win over Glenavon.

Torquay United

He extended his contract with the club in December[6] before spending time on trial with Torquay United at the turn of the year. It proved to be successful, and he subsequently signed a contract with the club until June 2010.[7] He made his debut for the club in a 1–1 draw against Chesterfield and scored his first goal in a 3–1 win over Darlington on 6 March 2010. In his second half of the season at Torquay, O'Kane made a good impression, resulting the club rewarding O'Kane and Chris Robertson a two-year deal.[8]

The following season, O'Kane continued to make an impression for the club as he scored six time and continued to set up goal 6 times this season against Crewe (scored again later on this season), Stockport County, Rotherham United, Hereford United and Northampton Town. O'Kane scored his first FA Cup goal in third round and the only goal in a 1–0 win over Carlisle United. Also in the season, Torquay reached 7th place, resulting to participate the Play-off to get promoted to League One. In the semi-final of the play-off, O'Kane scored the second goal in the goal with a 2–0 win over Shrewsbury Town which Torquay win in the second leg to progress to the final against Stevenage, who dominated against Accrington Stanley. But lost to Stevenage following the only goal in the game from John Mousinho, preventing Torquay to get promoted to League One and in the first half of the season, O'Kane signed a new contract extension, keeping him until 2014.[9] Through the season, O'Kane continued to make an impression for the club as he scored 5 (against Macclesfield Town, Wimbledon, twice against Plymouth Argyle and Aldershot Town) and continued to set up goal 9 times.

Towards the end of the season, he was among 3 Torquay player (Bobby Olejnik, Kevin Nicholson and Lee Mansell) named in the PFA Team of the Year of League Two and it was the first time he received an honour.[10] Once again, Torquay United reach 5th place, resulting to participate the play-offs and played their first game against Cheltenham Town but Torquay lost in both legs.

After the end of 2011–12 season, O'Kane was linked with Newly promoted League One side Swindon Town.[11] Crawley Town was interested signing him after the club made an offer for him about £175,000 and the offer was accepted by the club.[12] However, O'Kane rejected the move to Crawley Town after talks with negotiations had stalled.[13] After a move to Bournemouth, O'Kane made an explanation rejecting Crawley Town, claiming the move wasn't for him.[14]


In mid-July, the club accepted a bid from an unknown club in the League One side,[15] which later turns out to be Bournemouth. The move was officially made on 26 July 2012.[14] O'Kane made his debut for the club in a 1–1 draw against Portsmouth on the opening game of the season. His first goal for the Cherries came in an FA Cup game against Carlisle United in a 3–1 win.[16] Twenty-eight days later, Kane scored his first league goal, in a 3–0 win over Crawley Town.[17] Then just a few days after scoring his first league goal, Kane scored again in an FA Cup game against Wigan, in a 1–1 draw, which results playing again.[18]

In a 3–1 loss against Walsall on 19 January 2013, O'Kane penalised for handball after picking the ball up because he thought a free-kick had been awarded, which led to a penalty and ended the club's 15-game unbeaten run in League One.[19] After the match, O'Kane made apology on his Twitter account, which Manager Eddie Howe has since forgiven him and commenting the incident, believing it's should not be a penalty; instead, a free-kick.[20] Though the incident, Walsall's assistant manager Richard O'Kelly believes that O'Kane should be short-listed for the FIFA fair play award. O'Kelly would also go on to praise O'Kane for his honesty and sportsmanship.[21] Later in the season, O'Kane would play an important role to help the club promoted to the Championship following a 3–1 win over Carlisle United on 20 April 2013, but finished second place following Doncaster Rovers' 1–0 victory over promotion-chasers Brentford.[22]

On 11 March 2014, O'Kane signed a new three-and-a-half-year deal with the Cherries.[23] He played 17 times in all competitions, scoring one goal during the 2014–15 season as Bournemouth won the Championship and earned promotion to the Premier League.[24] During the 2015–16 season O'Kane made 17 appearances in all competitions for Bouremouth with 13 coming in the Premier League and he helped keep Bournemouth in the Premier League.

Leeds United

On 31 August 2016, transfer deadline day, whilst away on Republic of Ireland duty for a friendly against Oman,[25] O'Kane signed for Championship side Leeds United for an undisclosed fee on a 2-year deal.[26] He was given squad number 14 for the 2016–17 season.

O'Kane made his debut for the club in a 2–1 win against Blackburn Rovers on 13 September 2016.[27] His impressive form upon arrival coincided with an upturn in Leeds' form with Leeds reaching 6th place by November 2016 and into the Championship Playoff positions and also the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.[28][29]

However, on 29 November 2016, O'Kane played only 28 minutes of a 2–0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield after suffering a recurrence of a groin injury originally picked up on international duty with Republic of Ireland and had to be substituted for Kalvin Phillips.[30] After several weeks out injured, he made his first appearance after recovering from injury in Leeds' 3–2 defeat against Barnsley F.C. on 21 January 2017. However he struggled to regain his regular starting first team place once returning from injury under Garry Monk.[31]

After impressing during the 2017–18 pre season under new head coach Thomas Christiansen,[32] on 11 August 2017 O'Kane was rewarded with a new 4-year contract at the club.[33] He started the season as a regular alongside Kalvin Phillips, however after a good start to the season, both suffered a loss of form, O'Kane found himself in and out the side with Ronaldo Vieira given more opportunities and the arrival of January signing Adam Forshaw.[34]

On 13 January 2018, O'Kane was given a straight red card after laying a headbutt on Ipswich Town opponent Jonas Knudsen, with O'Kane coming under heavy criticism for his form after the game.[35] He returned from a three-match suspension on 10 February, when he was named as captain in new head coach Paul Heckingbottom's first game in charge of Leeds, in a 2–1 defeat against Sheffield United. However O'Kane inadvertently assisted Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp for both Sheffield goals, heading the ball directly to Sharp in Leeds' own box for the forward to score and subsequently fouling him for a penalty which he then converted from the spot.[36]

With speculation that he was not in Marcelo Bielsa's plans, on 26 July 2018, O'Kane was not given a shirt number for Leeds for the upcoming 2018–19 season for Leeds.[37] In August 2018, Charlton Athletic Manager Lee Bowyer revealed Charlton had made a loan bid for O'Kane, however O'Kane wanted to stay in the EFL Championship.[38]

He was released by Leeds at the end of the 2020-21 season.[39]

Luton Town loan

On 31 August 2018, O'Kane joined Luton Town on loan until January 2019[40] but the move was cut short after he broke his leg in the victory over Bristol Rovers on 15 September.[41] Following surgery, O'Kane was set to return to Leeds United for rehabilitation, with the club announcing he would miss the remainder of the 2018–2019 season.[42]

Luton Town 2nd Loan

O'Kane returned to Luton on an 18-month loan on 30 January 2020,[43][44][45] but more than a year later he had yet to feature again due to further injury setbacks.[46]

International career

After representing Northern Ireland at underage levels, Eunan O'Kane decided to switch allegiance to the Republic of Ireland in October 2011.[47]

Eunan O'Kane received his first call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad in May 2012 for a European U21 Championship qualifier against Italy.[48] He was called up to the senior Republic of Ireland squad in August 2015 for the first time with manager Martin O'Neill including him in a 37-man preliminary squad to face Gibraltar and Georgia in Euro 2016 qualifiers.[49] He went on to make his first appearances for the senior team in March 2016 in a 1–0 as a substitute in the win over Switzerland, and then starting the following Tuesday in the match versus Slovakia.[50]

Despite featuring 4 times during 2016 for Ireland, he missed out on selection for the final 23 Republic of Ireland for the Euro 2016 Squad after being named as a standby for Republic of Ireland for the tournament.[3]

On 31 August 2016, O'Kane returned to the Republic of Ireland squad in their first fixture since Euro 2016, for a friendly against Oman, where he was named as an unused substitute in a 4–0 victory in a match that turned out to be teammate Robbie Keane's final game for the national side.[25] On 28 March 2017, he came on as a 63rd-minute substitute for Conor Hourihane in Ireland's 0–1 loss in a friendly against Iceland.[51]

Style of play

A holding midfielder, O'Kane's performances have made him a favourite with fans and managers alike, especially Martin Ling who commented that O'Kane was 'a player like himself' who 'never shies away from wanting the ball, even after he's made a mistake.’[52]

Personal life

After wanting to marry his fiancée Laura Lacole in a humanist ceremony, O'Kane was embroiled in a high-profile court case to have a humanist Wedding Ceremony recognised as a legal marriage ceremony.[53]

On 20 June 2017, O'Kane and his fiancée Laura Lacole made history when they won their battle via the Court of Appeal in the Belfast High Court, Northern Ireland, the couple's ceremony on 22 June 2017 was the first legal humanist ceremony in Northern Ireland and the first in the United Kingdom outside Scotland.[54]


AFC Bournemouth


Career statistics

As of 13 March 2020
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Torquay United 2009–10[56] League Two 161000000161
2010–11[57] League Two 45641105[lower-alpha 1]1558
2011–12[58] League Two 45520103[lower-alpha 2]0515
Total 1061261208112214
Bournemouth 2012–13[59] League One 371420000413
2013–14[60] Championship 371201100402
2014–15[61] Championship 110204100171
2015–16[62] Premier League 160301000200
Total 101211262001186
Leeds United 2016–17[63] Championship 240002000260
2017–18[64] Championship 320000000320
Total 560002000580
Luton Town (loan) 2018–19[65] League One 3000001[lower-alpha 3]040
2019–20[66] Championship 0000000000
2020–21 Championship 0000000000
Total 3000001040
Career total 266141731029130220
  1. 2 appearances in Football League Trophy, 3 appearances and one goal in League Two play-offs
  2. 1 appearance in Football League Trophy, 2 appearances in League Two play-offs
  3. Appearance(s) in EFL Trophy


As of match played 1 June 2017.
International statistics
National teamYearAppsGoals
Republic of Ireland 201650

See also


  1. "Professional retain lists & free transfers 2012/13" (PDF). The Football League. May 2013. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 August 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
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  4. "Dream chaser O'Kane still proving doubters wrong". Irish Independent. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  5. "O'Kane Completes Coleraine Switch". BBC Sport. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  6. "Coleraine pair extend contracts". BBC Sport. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  7. "Torquay United complete the signing of Eunan O'Kane". BBC Sport. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  8. "New deals for Gulls duo". Sky Sports. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  9. "O'Kane signs new Torquay deal". Sky Sports. 26 September 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  10. "PFA Team of the Year: League Two". Team Talk. 22 April 2012. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  11. "Swindon bid for O'Kane". Sky Sports. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  12. "O'Kane on Crawley's radar". Sky Sports. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  13. "Torquay United's Eunan O'Kane says Crawley Town move is off". This is South Devon. 28 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 September 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
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  15. "O'Kane offer accepted". Sky Sports. 24 July 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  16. "Cherries: Howe's men in hat for third round". Bournemouth Echo. 1 December 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
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  18. "Cherries: Goal hero O'Kane plots an FA Cup shock". Bournemouth Echo. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
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  20. "Eunan O'Kane forgiven for 'phantom whistle' penalty gaffe". BBC Sport. 20 January 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  21. "O'Kelly: Cherries star O'Kane should be rewarded for fair play". Bournemouth Echo. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
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  41. "Eunan O'Kane: Luton midfielder to have surgery after double leg fracture". BBC Football. 16 September 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  42. "EUNAN O'KANE SUFFERS INJURY". Retrieved 17 September 2018.
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  54. "Humanist midfielder Eunan O'Kane to wed fiancée Laura Lacole in landmark ceremony on Thursday". Derry Journalist. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
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