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O’Neill happy to be home and healthy after Chinese gastro disaster

“It started from there, it was coming out of every hole in my body. After that it was batten down the hatches – just get through it as best you can. Everyone that’s gone through gastro knows it’s quite difficult.”

O’Neill was thus confined to his hotel room, quarantined away from the rest of the squad along with his other crook teammates and the members of Sydney’s staff who were also unfortunate victims of the illness.

I only saw a Chinese bed, Chinese wallpaper and I watched Asia’s Got Talent for five days straight. Asia does have a lot of talent.

Sydney FC midfielder Brandon O’Neill

“I only saw a Chinese bed, Chinese wallpaper and I watched Asia’s Got Talent for five days straight,” O’Neill said. “Asia does have a lot of talent. It was actually quite good – I was looking forward to it every night at half-seven when it popped on. I knew where I’d be, so I just tried to sip my Hydralyte as much as possible and get ready for a couple of hours of that.”

O’Neill didn’t even get to see the Sky Blues face off with PSG, with the match not televised in China. It wasn’t until the day after that he was able to review the footage and come to terms with what was, in full context, a miraculous effort from a second-string team filled out with young, largely untested players like Joel King, Harry van der Saag and Ryan Teague.

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“I thought the lads did unbelievably well,” he said. “They were exceptional. They can hold their heads up so, so high. You don’t want to miss those games, though. If I had it over again, I’d fly on the plane with a gas mask on or some body chute to keep every germ possible away from me.”

Thankfully, O’Neill is now back to full health and his usual playing weight – although he reckons Sunday was the first day he’s felt 100 per cent normal since returning to Sydney. “It’s good to be back. You don’t really think about your health until you get as sick as that,” he said.

It means O’Neill should be his usual bubbly self on Wednesday night, when Sydney FC face Brisbane Roar in the FFA Cup round of 32 at Leichhardt Oval. It will be Robbie Fowler’s first competitive game in charge of the Roar, with O’Neill quietly wondering if the Liverpool great will recognise him from his time at Perth Glory.

“I was only 14, 15 at the time – what a player,” O’Neill said. “I’m sure he’ll make a great name for himself here as a manager, but we’re not planning on that making that easy for him.”

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