MORTON new boy Garry O’Connor is on a mission to prove his doubters wrong after a nightmare year out of football.
The controversial former Hibs and Scotland forward has been without a club since parting company with Russian outfit Tom Tomsk 13 months ago and, in that time, has only made the headlines for negative off-field reasons.
Now 30, O’Connor, whose second and most recent spell with Hibs ended straight after the 2012 Scottish Cup final defeat by Hearts, is hellbent on seizing the opportunity handed to him by Kenny Shiels at Morton, where he has signed a deal until the end of the season.
“It doesn’t hurt me what other people say about me – it hurts me what I’ve done,” said O’Connor, speaking at Morton’s Parklea training ground. “It’s me who made the mistakes, nobody else. And it’s up to me to try and prove people wrong. I’ve got regrets, of course I have. I’ve just been training for the last year and going on a few holidays. My last competitive game was in Russia in December 2012 – it’s been murder. Sitting there and not doing anything for a year, it does make you think. I can remember when I was at Hibs the first time around as a young lad. Now I’m 30 years old. I know I’ve not got that long left but I want to make the most of what I do have left in the game.
“It’s about growing up. I’ve been an a******* but it’s time to turn it about and prove to people that I’ve changed. All that stuff (off the park) is behind me now. I’m healthy as can be now and hopefully I can get on to the pitch and score a few goals. I’ve been given a chance here at Morton. I won’t do anything stupid.”
Like former Hibs teammate Derek Riordan, who remains without a club, O’Connor believes his chequered past has counted against him with regard to getting back into football. “Derek Riordan is one of the all-time top goalscorers in the SPL and he can’t get a club. It’s ridiculous.
“But I’ve got a second chance now and hopefully Deeks is the same. My reputation has probably preceded me but it’s up to me to put that right and to move on with my life. I want to turn my reputation around.”