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Aberdeen’s Funso Ojo considered quitting football for real estate and personal training as he was so disillusioned

Aberdeen's Funso Ojo in action against Hearts at Tynecastle.
Aberdeen's Funso Ojo in action against Hearts at Tynecastle.

Aberdeen midfielder Funso Ojo considered retiring from football as he was so disillusioned with his career at Pittodrie.

The 29-year-old admits he was ‘almost done with the game’ and thought about quitting.

Last January Ojo was sent out on loan to League One strugglers Wigan Athletic.

On returning to Pittodrie in the summer, he was told his No.8 shirt had been given to new signing and team captain Scott Brown.

It was another blow for Ojo, who considered returning to Belgium to start a new career.

However, thoughts of quitting are in the past as Ojo, who scored the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Hearts, has been rejuvenated under boss Stephen Glass.

Ojo is delighted his Pittodrie career, and love of the game, are back on track.

Aberdeen goal hero Funso Ojo during the 1-1 Premiership draw with Hearts at Tynecastle.

Asked if he feared his time at Aberdeen was over, Ojo said: “Not only my Pittodrie career.

“If I am honest, I told my missus: ‘Let’s just go back home and we’ll see what happens’.

“I was almost done with the game, if I am being really honest.

“But I just kept my head down in pre-season and did what they told me even if I didn’t like it and it worked out.

“Over the years, I have used my time wisely. I have done some things in real estate.

“I have done a PT course as well, so I have got options and I was ready to explore those options, but that is not the case now.

“I’m still a footballer and am still happy to be an Aberdeen player.

“I like the whole staff and just everything around the club at the moment.”

Aberdeen’s Funso Ojo celebrates making it 1-1 against Hearts at Tynecastle – his first goal for the Dons.

Offers from Salford and Wrexham rejected

Ojo recently claimed Aberdeen had made him an offer to pay up part of his contract, which expires in summer 2022, to part ways.

However, he said he rejected that route.

After impressing in pre-season, Ojo began a rapid resurgence as Glass pitched the midfielder in from the start of the opening game of the campaign, the 5-1 Europa Conference League defeat of BK Hacken at Pittodrie.

Ojo has been a key player, and regular starter, since grasping that opportunity.

Despite fearing be would be frozen out at Pittodrie, Ojo rejected moves to League Two Salford City and National League Wrexham during the summer.

Even if he had not featured for Aberdeen, and if he had opted not to retire, Ojo insisted the final year of his contract at Pittodrie is too good to rip up.

Which is why he is delighted to be a first team regular under Glass.

On knocking back ambitious Salford, he said: “It wasn’t really a difficult decision because I still had a year left.

“It’s a good contract and not something you just give up easily.

“So it was an easy decision to just sit this contract out, even if I was not playing.

“Obviously, the joy has to be there and I’m not just going to extend my football career unhappily.

“I had one year left, so I would have been a good team-mate and supported the guys and try to give some knowledge and then, after the end of the season, head back home and then see. Drain the savings.”

The resurgence of Ojo under Stephen Glass

A ball-playing midfielder who thrives on creating, Ojo was utilised in a more defensive role at Aberdeen prior to going out on loan last January.

The seeds of Ojo rediscovering his love of the game were sown at Wigan last season where he was a first team regular, starting 23 games with no substitute appearances.

Working with Glass and his management team allowed that rediscovered passion to grow further.

He said: “It started at Wigan with Leam Richardson (manager).

“Leam got my joy back in playing and we got a good result at the end of the season by staying up.

“Then when coming back (to Aberdeen), we did a lot of passing drills and that is stuff I like to do during the week.

“I told him (Glass) that training during a week does a lot for me even if I am not in the squad and don’t play.

“If I enjoy myself Monday to Friday, you’ll have a good guy in me and I’ll support the team mates.

“The training sessions have just been that good.”

Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass during the UEFA Conference League tie with Qarabag.

Ojo knows what’s at stake against Qarabag

Ojo is likely to retain his starting spot for Thursday’s Uefa Europa Conference League play-off clash with Qarabag at Pittodrie.

Aberdeen trail 1-0 from the first leg in Azerbaijan.

The Dons have made 18,000 tickets available for the biggest European game at Pittodrie in more than a decade and hope for a sell-out.

Aberdeen’s players take a drinks break in Baku due to the heat in the Europa Conference League play-off first leg.

At stake for Aberdeen is European group stage qualification for the first time since the UEFA Cup in 2007.

Ojo understands the enormity of the tie for the supporters, the club and the city and is confident the Dons have the quality to knock-out Qarabag.

He said: “It has been 14 years since we have been this close, so we know what’s at stake.

“The chairman is pushing us, the people behind the scenes are pushing us and we think it is there.

“The away leg was 1-0, but we were happy with that given the circumstances.

“The heat was very intense and the pitch was hard.

“Qarabag are a good team and we expect them to give us something on Thursday, but we’re just confident we will do it.

“We have the fans at home. I think it will be a full crowd, but not even that.

“I just think our football abilities will get it done.”

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.