Shamrock Rovers today confirmed the signing of ex English Premier League defender and Ireland international Joey O’Brien.
Speaking at today’s signing Joey said “I’m buzzing to be here and get going. It happened over a short period of time, I made contact with the club and luckily it got over the line. I was moving back home with my family so it was a logical thing, I support Shamrock Rovers.
I’m a Rovers fan and I wanted to get playing and come back here. This is the place to be. Last season I was at Rovers games and I’ve watched them a few times.
I’ll speak to the manager and get to know the players. It’s about becoming part of the squad, I definitely bring the age up! I like to think I’ve been around a while and have good experience of playing at certain levels. Hopefully the way I go about training and off the pitch as well, some of the younger lads can learn from working with me.
It was fantastic at West Ham, apart from the last year where it didn’t work out for me. But that’s what happens. Then I was up at Bolton , I still have contacts there from when I started. It was just a nice fit at the time to try and get fit. I played a couple of games but competitively is what it’s all about, it’s been a while since I played in matches. I’ve put in a lot of hours into getting to this situation. Hopefully now I’ll go to Portugal (for the Atlantic Cup) and get a good bit of training in before the season starts.
Coming back to play in Ireland was always on the radar, even going back five or six years, if I could have played for Rovers that was always the thing. It’s worked out that way now. The coaching side of things appeals to me but not yet, in a few years maybe. Initially it’s about playing. When I spoke to Stephen that’s what I wanted to put across. I’ve been to Rovers-Bohs games over the years as a supporter in the Rovers end so it’ll be nice to be out there playing.”
Stephen Bradley said that “He’s a great signing for us. I believe Joey and his family have been Rovers fans all their lives, so it was an easy sell when he got in contact a few months back. We sat down and had a chat and he trained with us for a while before he had to go back to England to do a few things. When he made the phone call to say he wanted to get it done it was great for both of us.
He’s been getting to know us and vice versa. I think he brings a great experience to the squad. He’s played at such a high level throughout his career. With the group we have, he’s just the right character and right quality. You see at Roadstone the whole club is based there. So the Under 8’s will see the first team and I think it’s great when they come in and see the likes of Joey walking around and they can meet him and get to know him.
Any player we’ve signed this year we’ve been thinking can he play in two or three positions. We haven’t nailed down anyone in certain positions. Everyone can see how good Ethan Boyle is so bringing in Joey will only help the likes of Ethan and the centre-backs, because Joey can play there or midfield as well. That was part of the reason of why he appealed to us, he can cover a lot of areas.
We’re all well aware of Joey’s history with injuries and Joey was very open and honest about it as well. We went into this with our eyes open. If we can get Joey on the pitch and look after him in training he’ll be a massive asset to the club, what he brings to the dressing room and the training pitch. It’s the whole package. He’s been through the mill in terms of games and injuries, we know that but we just have to manage him.
Coaching is something we spoke about with Joey but it’s very clear that he wants to play. I’d imagine at some point he will go down that road because he sees the game and understands the game. It’s a natural progression but right now he’s very clear and adamant that he wants to play games and he sees himself doing that for a few years. That was key in the conversation with Joey, that he’s here to play football and do nothing else. For me that showed a really strong focus to go back and enjoy playing his football.”
Joey (31) initially made his mark in 2004/05 on loan to Sheffield Wednesday, captaining the side at the age of 19. A Premier League breakthrough with Bolton Wanderers the following season coincided with his senior international debut but two serious knee injuries hampered his progress. Joey reunited with Sam Allardyce at West Ham in 2011 and he helped the Hammers win promotion through the Championship playoffs. He was on the bench for Martin O’Neill’s first match in charge of Ireland against Latvia in November 2013 but never added to his five caps. Joey made 105 appearances in five years for West Ham, the last of which came in an FA Cup win over Liverpool in February 2016 before being released from his contract.