Ronnie O'Brien

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Ronnie O'Brien
Ronnie Obrien.jpg
O'Brien with Toronto FC in 2007
Personal information
Full nameRonnie O'Brien
Date of birth (1979-01-05) 5 January 1979 (age 40)
Place of birth Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
1997–1999 Middlesbrough 0 (0)
1999–2002 Juventus 0 (0)
1999AC Lugano (loan) 8 (0)
2000–2001Crotone (loan) 4 (0)
2001–2002Lecco (loan) 8 (0)
2002Dundee United (loan) 6 (0)
2002–2006 FC Dallas 108 (12)
2007 Toronto FC 13 (0)
2008 San Jose Earthquakes 28 (4)
National team
1997–1998 Republic of Ireland U16
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league onlyand correct as of 17 August 2018
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 7 April 2018

Ronnie O'Brien (born 5 January 1979) is an Irish retired footballer.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.


Although released early in his career by his first club Middlesbrough, he was subsequently signed by Juventus in 1999. During three years with the Italian club, he played only occasionally for the first team and was loaned out to Lugano in Switzerland, lower division Italian clubs Crotone and Lecco, and Dundee United in Scotland. After leaving Juventus in 2002, O'Brien spent the rest of his career playing in Major League Soccer (MLS) for FC Dallas, Toronto FC and San Jose Earthquakes before retiring in 2008. He was named in the MLS Best XI in both 2004 and 2005, and was selected for the MLS All-Star Game for four years running.

Middlesbrough F.C. association football club

Middlesbrough Football Club is a professional association football club based in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England. They are currently competing in the EFL Championship, the second tier of English football. Formed in 1876, they have played at the Riverside Stadium since 1995, their third ground since turning professional in 1889. They played at the Linthorpe Road ground from 1882 to 1903 and at Ayresome Park for 92 years, from 1903 to 1995.

Juventus F.C. association football club from Italy

Juventus Football Club, colloquially known as Juve, is an Italian professional football club based in Turin, Piedmont. Founded in 1897 by a group of Torinese students, the club has worn a black and white striped home kit since 1903 and has played home matches in different grounds around its city, the latest being the 41,507-capacity Allianz Stadium. Nicknamed Vecchia Signora, the club has won 34 official league titles, 13 Coppa Italia titles and eight Supercoppa Italiana titles, being the record holder for all these competitions; two Intercontinental Cups, two European Cups / UEFA Champions Leagues, one European Cup Winners' Cup, a joint national record of three UEFA Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and one UEFA Intertoto Cup. Consequently, the side leads the historical Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) ranking whilst on the international stage occupies the 4th position in Europe and the eight in the world for most confederation titles won with eleven trophies, having led the UEFA ranking during seven seasons since its inception in 1979, the most for an Italian team and joint second overall.

F.C. Crotone Italian association football club

Football Club Crotone S.r.l., commonly referred to as Crotone, is an Italian football club based in Crotone, Calabria. Founded in 1910, holding home games at Stadio Ezio Scida, which has a 16,547-seat capacity. The club currently competes in Serie B.

O'Brien also represented the Republic of Ireland under-16 team and was part of the squad that won the 1998 Under-16 European Championship.

The Republic of Ireland national under-17 football team, is the national under-17 football team of the Republic of Ireland and is controlled by the Football Association of Ireland and competes in the annual UEFA European Under-17 Championship and the biennial FIFA U-17 World Cup.

The 1998 UEFA European Under-16 Championship was the 16th edition of UEFA's European Under-16 Football Championship. Scotland hosted the championship, during April 26 – May 8, 1998. 16 teams entered the competition, and Republic of Ireland defeated Italy in the final to win the competition for the first time.

Playing career

Club career

O'Brien's footballing career began very promisingly, when at the age of 18 he signed a contract with Middlesbrough of the FA Premier League. Although he played little at Middlesbrough, he had great success with Irish national team youth sides, winning the European U-16 championship alongside players like Damien Duff and Robbie Keane. After two years with Middlesbrough, O'Brien was released on a free transfer. Incredibly, Italian giants Juventus offered 20-year-old O'Brien a five-year contract; however, he had trouble getting playing time on such a talented side and was loaned out to Lugano of Switzerland, Dundee United of Scotland, and lower league Italian side Lecco. After several years of disappointment and three Inter-Toto Cup appearances, O'Brien was released from his contract with Juventus in 2002.

Republic of Ireland national football team Mens national association football team

The Republic of Ireland national football team represents Ireland in association football. It is governed by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and stages its home fixtures at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Damien Duff Irish footballer

Damien Anthony Duff is an Irish professional football coach and former player who played predominantly as a winger and is currently the first team coach at Celtic.

Robbie Keane Irish footballer

Robert David Keane is an Irish former professional footballer who played as a forward and is the current assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland national team. He served as captain of Ireland from March 2006 until his international retirement in August 2016.


In search of consistent playing time, O'Brien, made the unconventional decision to move to America to join the Dallas Burn. O'Brien made an immediate impact, scoring on his debut for the club in a US Open Cup match. He finished the 2002 season with two goals and two assists in 11 games but had proven himself one of the more dynamic players on the team. O'Brien entered the 2003 season with great expectations, but these were cut short early in the season. In the Burn's third game of the season, a tackle from D.C. United's Dema Kovalenko broke O'Brien's tibia, effectively ending his season. O'Brien returned to the team in 2004 and was one of the team's offensive leaders – he started 29 games, registering two goals and 10 assists, was named to the MLS Best XI, and helped revitalise a Burn team that had recorded one of the league's worst records ever in the previous season.

D.C. United American soccer team

D.C. United is an American professional soccer club based in Washington, D.C. The club competes as a member of the Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer (MLS), the top level of professional American soccer. The franchise began play in 1996 as one of the ten charter clubs of the league. The club was one of the most successful clubs in the early years of MLS, winning eight of its thirteen titles between 1996 and 1998 under then head coach Bruce Arena. United holds the joint MLS record for most Supporters' Shields, has four MLS Cups, and been crowned U.S. Open Cup champions three times. It is also the first club to win both the MLS Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup consecutively.

Dema Kovalenko Ukrainian footballer

Dmytro "Dema" Kovalenko is a retired American footballer.

The MLS Best XI is an annual acknowledgement of the best eleven players in Major League Soccer.

In 2005, O'Brien repeated his Best XI form, finishing the year with six goals and 12 assists. During the 2006 season, O'Brien clashed with FC Dallas' head coach Colin Clarke all season. His form was poor and he finished with only one goal in 27 games. At the conclusion of the season, O'Brien was traded to the expansion club Toronto FC with a gentlemen's agreement that Toronto FC would not draft any other FC Dallas players.

Toronto FC association football club in Canada

Toronto Football Club, commonly referred to as Toronto FC, is a Canadian professional soccer team based in Toronto, Ontario. The team competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member of the Eastern Conference. The team plays its home matches at BMO Field, located at Exhibition Place on Toronto's shoreline. Toronto FC joined MLS in 2007 as an expansion team and was the first Canadian-based franchise in the league.

Due to a knee injury during a training session, which was later aggravated during a friendly match, O'Brien was limited to 13 games in the 2007 season.

In 2008, O'Brien was traded to the San Jose Earthquakes. In return, Toronto FC received San Jose's first round pick in the 2009 draft plus an undisclosed amount of money. [1] He made 28 appearances, scoring 4 goals (his 16th in the MLS). His 6 assists brought his MLS career assist total to 45 (from 142 total appearances).

Following O'Brien's strong performance and evident leadership in 2008, the San Jose Earthquakes stunned their fans by failing to pick up his contract option for the 2009 season. Instead, Earthquakes' GM John Doyle was hoping that he would accept a substantial pay cut. In January 2009, O'Brien made it known that he would not be returning to the San Jose Earthquakes. [2] Without O'Brien's leadership and strong play, the Earthquakes struggled early in 2009. Despite a favourable schedule in which San Jose played five of their seven games at home, the Quakes managed just one win, leading many San Jose fans to call for O'Brien's return.

International career

O'Brien achieved success with the Republic of Ireland national youth sides, including winning the 1998 Under-16 European Championship alongside John O'Shea.

Despite having played multiple times for the Irish underage sides, O'Brien only received one call-up to the senior side. Steve Staunton contacted Toronto FC about his availability for a short tour of the US in June 2007. However, O'Brien turned down the chance to play for his country again, as he had just returned from injury, while adding he was happy playing club football. [3]

Coaching career

He is now a coach of FC Dallas' youth teams. [4]

Personal life

O'Brien keeps an off-season residence in Dallas and is an avid Dallas Mavericks fan. [5]

Time magazine stunt

In August 1999, e-mails circulated urging Irish people to vote for Ronnie O'Brien in Time's Person of the Century Internet poll, causing O'Brien to lead the poll, above those such as Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King. After the poll crashed due to attracting too much traffic, Time removed O'Brien from the running, restating the rule that "whimsical candidates will not be counted." [6]

Career statistics

ClubSeasonLeagueOther 1 Total
FC Lugano 1999–2000 Super League 5050
Dundee United 2001–02 Premier League 8080
Dallas Burn/FC Dallas 2002 MLS 11230142
2003 6161
2004 292292
2005 28620306
2006 27120291
Toronto FC 2007 MLS130130
San Jose Earthquakes 2008 28428
Career totals158167016516
Sources: [7] [8]



Republic of Ireland U16


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  1. Campbell, Morgan (28 February 2008). "TFC trades O'Brien to Earthquakes: Report".
  2. Carlisle, Jeff (22 January 2009). "O'Brien: "I'm definitely not coming back"". Archived from the original on 28 June 2013.
  3. McIntyre, Doug (24 May 2007). "O'Brien has no regrets about declining Irish invite".
  4. FC Dallas (2010). Spring Break Youth Soccer Camp (Video).
  5. "Ronnie O'Brien". Archived from the original on 27 April 2011.
  6. Wrafter, Mark (6 April 2003). "Polling power of viral e-mails". Archived from the original on 1 March 2009.
  7. "Ronnie O'Brien » Club matches". World Football. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  8. "Ronnie O'Brien". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 12 March 2017.