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John O'Kane   FACTS 
Born  Nottingham, 15 November 1974 
Height  5' - 10" (178 cm) 
Joined Everton  from Manchester United in January 1998 (up to £500,000) 
Debut  v West Ham United (a), 30 January 1998 
Nicknames  Kane-O 
Left Everton for Bolton Wanderers in December 1999 (Free transfer)
Finale v Manchester United (a), 21 March 1999
Honours  FA Youth Cup Winner '92; runner-up '93 
 Seasons   Club   Apps   Gls 
1990-1998  Manchester United  1 (1) + 4 (2)  -
1996-1997  Bury (on loan)  13 
1997-1998  Bradford City (on loan) 
1998-1999  Burnley (on loan) 8 -
1999-2000  Bolton (on loan) 1 (1) + 1 -


  • Passes and tackles intelligently 
  • Good wing-back skills 
  • Comfortable on the ball 
  • Natural athlete 
  • Limited Premiership experience 
  • Has played in the reserves for ages 
  • Needs a good run of matches
John O'Kane came through the Manchester United youth system, playing in the side that won the FA Youth Cup in 1992. O'Kane is a defender who has played at both left-back and right-back, and in midfield. With the almost simultaneous departure of Andy Hinchcliffe, Everton fans hoped that Kendall would play him on the left, and that Jon O'Connor would finally get a chance to show his skill at right back. Some hope!

John O'Kane was rated very highly but could not get into the Manchester United side due to the likes of Phil and Gary Neville. He found it increasingly difficult to even go and watch the first-team matches, knowing that his chances of playing were effectively zero. With that situation unlikely to change in the near future, O'Kane was unlikely to get many opportunities at Old Trafford and should have been better served with a move elsewhere. 

The prospects for him at Goodison Park looked good. When he arrived, he had a point to prove in the Premiership and he was given the opportunity to prove himself to Howard kendall, his new manager. 

Previously, O'Kane had loan spells with Bury and Bradford where his skills were appreciated. He passes and tackles intelligently. Furthermore, his movement down the wing was fairly thoughtful.  However, he also displayed what appeared to be a stunning lack of effort while on loan. Perhaps the lad is simply yearning for the Premiership football he know he deserves. 

In his first games for Everton, John O'Kane looked promising but obviously is lacking top-flight match practice – a situation made worse by a booking which was his 5th of the season and led to an automatic two-match ban in February 1998.

O'Kane went on to make himself a regular in Everton's desperate struggle to avoid the drop under Howard Kendall. While not setting the world alight, O'Kane proved to be a solid choice at right-back, and showed a marked improvement as he started to come to terms with the step up to Premiership football...

Or so it seemed. 1 July 1998 and Walter Smith arrived, spelling a swift end to John O'Kane's adventures in the Premiership. O'Kane plays in a position which simply does not figure in Walter Smith's increasingly bizarre defensive line-up: right-back. A loan spell at 2nd Division Burnley for 2 months was probably a blessed release. 

Nothing came of that, but even an injury crisis was not enough to force Walter Smith to reconsider the potential value of John O'Kane, who also picked up 3 yellow cards while he was at Burnley. The arrival of of Smith's old-boy, David Weir, was surely the final nail in Kane-O's Goodison coffin. After this, he played just one full match – the ill-fated FA Cup quarter-final at Newcastle United.

Walter Smith's lack of enthusiasm for O'Kane and some of the other talented youngsters he inherited may well be down to a conflict over attitude. If so, it reflects poorly on Smith's managerial inability to bring them into line. But the problem he faced was epitomised perhaps by churlish comments overheard from Oster and O'Kane as they sat in the Main Stand, watching their "teammates" crash at home to Sheffield Wednesday... Unsurprisingly, O'Kane was one in the batch of five to be put up for sale at the end of Walter Smith's difficult first season in charge.

And the proof of the pudding was an almost total lack of interest in him from other clubs. He did get on the subs bench against Oxford United, but by early October 1999, Smith told O'Kane to have his agent find him a free transfer. All they came up with was another loan deal, this time with Bolton Wanderers, but in December 1999 that was turned into a permanent move as Walter Smith finally trimmed his small squad even more.

In 2004, O'Kane was spotted on the roster for Hyde United of the Unibond League.

Season Squad 
1997-98 32 12 (-) - - (-) - 12 (-) -
1998-99 32 2 (-) - 1 (2) - 3 (2) -
1999-2k 32 - (-) - - (-) - - (-) -

Totals:  14 (-)  - 1 (2) - 15 (2) -

Cup Statistics include all other non-league senior matches, as counted by Everton FC in the Matchday Programme

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© Marko Poutiainen and Michael Kenrick 1999

Last update: 23 December 1999

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