Midfield maestro speaks to the club website after signing new contract.
Crowd-favourite midfielder Stuart O’Keefe has inked a new deal to extend his stay at ME7. Gillingham’s no.4 said he is eager to play a vital role in next season’s campaign at a club he describes as a ‘different animal’ to the one he joined back in 2019.
The vice captain, whose previous teams include Crystal Palace, Portsmouth and Cardiff, made a remarkable recovery from an early-season horror injury to became a regular fixture in Steve Evans’ side this year, where he showcased his work rate and hunger in the midfield engine room.
O’Keefe spoke exclusively to the Club’s official website to analyse the 2020-21 season, discuss his tough return from the treatment room and explain why extending his contract was an easy decision.
A rollercoaster season
“There has to be a tinge of disappointment; it was a mixed season. We had some really good spells and we had some tough spells. Overall, it was a great effort from us and getting into the mix and taking it to 44 games is a credit to everyone. It may have been tinged with disappointment but it’s something we can definitely work on.
“Every team in the league will be saying, ‘if we had done this right or if we had got a result there, it could have looked different’. From our point of view, we were one of the in-form teams at the turn of the year and we weren’t that far off it at all. But that’s football, and over the course of the season you are where you deserve to be.
“We can be proud; there was a lot of effort from everyone in a season without fans, with COVID and with everything that was against us. It was a fantastic effort from all of us.”
Recovery and staying positive
“Personally it was a mixed season too. The leg break and ankle damage in the third or fourth game into the season was a setback but you have to stay professional. Credit to the medical and fitness team, they got me in a fantastic condition; all my hospital appointments and the surgery, everything down to the last detail was spot on and that helped me massively in my recovery.
“I had good days and bad days, like with any serious injury, but to come through in the way I did and in that timescale is credit to everyone including myself. I turned it into a positive in the best way I could and tried to come back and have a positive effect on the team.”
Extending his stay at the Gills
“It’s nice to get the contract signed. Everyone at Gillingham has been excellent to me since the day I came. I can’t thank them enough, especially with my injury. I’ve played a lot of football over the two seasons. Thanks to the manager, the staff and all the players we are definitely improving and going in the right direction. Gillingham is a different animal from when I signed.
“It’s all positive and it made sense for me to get a contract signed early doors. I can enjoy my summer and then get ready for a hard pre-season.”