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By ESPN Staff
Dec 30, 2007

O'Donnell family 'overwhelmed' by support

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee today revealed Phil O'Donnell's family have been 'overwhelmed by the support and messages from people inside and outside the football world' following the death of the Fir Park skipper.

The former Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder died after collapsing during his team's match against Dundee United yesterday.

McGhee, who visited the O'Donnell family before addressing the media waiting outside Fir Park, read out a message from the family in an impromptu press conference, televised by Sky Sports News.

The message read: 'None of us yet can comprehend what has happened.

'We have been overwhelmed by the support and messages from people inside and outside the football world.

'We are grateful for all the support we have received.

'In the meantime we would appreciate our privacy is respected and we are given time to grieve.'

McGhee revealed that the O'Donnell family were struggling to come to terms with their loss.

He said: 'They benefit from being a large family and a strong and close family.

'But as you can understand, Phil's mum and dad and his brothers and sisters are devastated by this.

'His wife Aileen is inconsolable but again, she has a very strong family around here to support her and help her through this.'

The Motherwell manager paid his own personal tribute to O'Donnell, saying: 'His performance yesterday was the best of the season as far as we are concerned.

'He was energised by the performance of the younger players, he was inspired by them.

'There were times in the game when he looked across at us and smiled and shook his head because he was in awe of what was going on around him, the football that was being played and the attitude of the young players around him.

'I think he was proud to be part of that and I think they, as we said to them, should be proud to have provided him with that and to perform the way they did.'