MAKING the Highlands a new home convinced Coll Donaldson he ought to stick around with Caley Thistle.
A new two-and-a-half year contract, agreed yesterday, is reward for the 22-year-old’s impressive performances since relocating from the central belt four months ago.
A strong partnership with centre-back colleague Brad Mckay on and off the park, coupled with having his father Euan already living in Inverness, has made his feel like a home away from home for Donaldson.
Looking forward to another 2 and a half year in the highlands https://t.co/DvIRuGVwht— Coll Donaldson (@CollDonaldson) December 11, 2017
He said yesterday he had been searching for somewhere to start enjoying his football again and escaping the bubble of living so close to home has proved the right decision.
“I’ve been enjoying my football again and I’ve been searching that for a while. I’m really settled here; the gaffer trusts me and I’ve enjoyed working with him. It was an easy decision in the end,” said Donaldson, who joined the Caley Jags after leaving Dundee United.
“I came in against Aberdeen in the Challenge Cup, went out and back in again and gained the gaffer’s trust. I’ve really enjoyed living in Inverness and that’s been a huge thing for me. Apart from living in London, I’ve lived in Edinburgh my whole life. I’m not really missing it much which is strange, as that’s all I did in London.
“Not a lot of people know it but I’ve got my dad up here too, so I’ve got family up here. I’m really settled and really enjoying it.
“You can fall into that bubble where you’re a professional footballer and out with your friends every weekend. You need to go out and work and up here there’s not a lot else to do other than play football, particularly with the snow!
“You can go one or two ways - it can be a good fit or you can feel like you’re on the edge of the world, which in some ways you are. You’re away from the central belt but it’s only two and a half hours away. I used to live eight hours away.”
Having his father so close to him – he even appeared at his son’s press conference yesterday – has been another comfort that has made the tranisition to life up north easier.
“My dad’s been here 18 months and he’s been brilliant for me. I go round his for dinner and he keeps me level-headed. He’s at the game and it gives you someone to talk to about it. It feels like home having your dad five minutes round the corner,” said Donaldson.
“He was round the flat watching the football on Sunday. He brought the food and the beers - but I never had any!”
Much has been made of the friendship between Donaldson and Mckay but aside from being Edinburgh, albeit different parts, the pair did not have a lot in common before they were part of the same dressing room in Inverness.
“I stayed with Brad when I first came up. I had the flat but I had no phone signal - I couldn’t live with that! We weren’t actually close pals before we came up here - we weren’t from the same part of town. But since I’ve come up we’ve clicked and it’s shown on the pitch,” said Donaldson.
“I’ve got my flat set up here - I’m actually quite a boring person! I don’t do a lot, I go home and play on my PS4, so it doesn’t affect me.”
Manager John Robertson added that Donaldson came in on very low wages, with the understanding that he could be bumped up in January should he earn an extension.
“You could follow the cash and see where it goes but this decision was a complete football one. That was the right way to go,” said Donaldson. “I’m still 22 - this takes me to 25 and that’s still really young. I don’t think there’s a better place to learn my football.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Jake Mulraney is back at the club after two days training with Hearts. Robertson was contacted by his former club last week and gave the winger permission to train at Riccarton. However, ahead of the game against Falkirk tonight, there has been no offer from the Jambos.