Michael O'Connor (footballer, born 1987)

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Michael O'Connor
Personal information
Full name Michael Joseph O'Connor
Date of birth (1987-10-06) 6 October 1987 (age 26)
Place of birth Belfast, Northern Ireland
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Port Vale
Number 17
Youth career
2004–2005 Crewe Alexandra
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005–2009 Crewe Alexandra 77 (3)
2009 Lincoln City (loan) 10 (1)
2009–2012 Scunthorpe United 97 (12)
2012–2014 Rotherham United 64 (7)
2014– Port Vale 4 (0)
National team
Northern Ireland U15 7 (0)
Northern Ireland U17 13 (6)
Northern Ireland U18 1 (0)
Northern Ireland U19 10 (0)
2007–2008 Northern Ireland U21 3 (2)
2008–2013 Northern Ireland 11 (0)
2009 Northern Ireland B 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 00:00, 24 August 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).

Michael O'Connor (born 6 October 1987) is a Northern Ireland international footballer who plays as a midfielder for League One club Port Vale.

He began his professional career at Crewe Alexandra in 2005, and soon established himself as a first team regular. He was loaned out to Lincoln City in March 2009, and was sold to Scunthorpe United in July 2009 for a £250,000 fee. He spent three seasons with the "Iron", two of which were in the Championship, before he was allowed to sign with Rotherham United in May 2012. He helped the "Millers" to win two consecutive promotions, coming out of League Two as runners-up in 2012–13, and then winning the League One play-off final in 2014. He signed with Port Vale in July 2014.

He was one of several Northern Irish footballers involved in a dispute between the IFA and the FAI concerning international eligibility. Having initially represented Northern Ireland up to under-21 level, O'Connor was persuaded to switch to the Republic of Ireland's under-21 squad for a brief period.[1][2] However, he subsequently decided to revert permanently to Northern Ireland, to whom he became irrevocably committed.[3]

Club career[edit]

Crewe Alexandra[edit]

O'Connor was spotted by Crewe Alexandra scouts as a young teenager playing youth football in Northern Ireland. In 2004, shortly after he turned 16, he signed scholarship terms. He was a prominent member of the Alexandra youth team that reached the semi-final of the 2004 FA Youth Cup and he later captained the side.[4] In July 2005 he signed a three-year professional contract. On 25 February 2006, aged 18, he made his Championship debut at Gresty Road when he came on as a late substitute for Gareth Taylor in a 2–1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion.[5] He made his second senior appearance for the "Railwaymen" in the club's final game of the 2005–06 season against Millwall on 30 April 2006, replacing Lee Bell at half-time he went on to set up two goals and hit the post with his one shot.[6]

He began the 2006–07 season as a regular first team player for Crewe, now in League One, under manager Dario Gradi. He scored his first senior goal on 22 August, in the League Cup, with a "fierce shot" from 18-yards in a 3–0 victory over Grimsby Town.[7] In all he made 34 appearances during the campaign.

O'Connor was not a regular first team player under new boss Steve Holland in the first half of the 2007–08 campaign, but won back his first team spot in the second half of the season. He was named in the League One 'Team of the Week' in March 2008 for his performance in a 3–0 win over Gillingham.[8]

After scoring his first league goal for the club on 13 September 2008 in a 2–0 victory over Colchester United, he went on to score in the next two games against Southend United and then against Liverpool in a 2–1 League Cup defeat at Anfield.[9][10][11] However he fell out of favour at Crewe under manager Guðjón Þórðarson after committing "breaches of discipline".[4][12][13] O'Connor joined Peter Jackson's League Two side Lincoln City on a one-month emergency loan on 6 March 2009, a day before a Lincolnshire derby against Grimsby, as a short-term replacement for Lee Frecklington.[14] O'Connor returned from Sincil Bank on 18 April after he was suspended for picking up 10 yellow cards that season, and subsequently trained with Scottish Premier League club Hibernian.[15][4]

Scunthorpe United[edit]

In July 2009, Crewe accepted an undisclosed offer (later revealed to be £250,000) for O'Connor from Scunthorpe United, and he signed a three-year contract with the club.[16][17] He went on to make 36 appearances for Scunthorpe in the 2009–10 campaign, helping Nigel Adkins's "Iron" to finish above the Championship relegation zone.

Scunthorpe struggled in the 2010–11 season following Atkins's departure, and Ian Baraclough and then Alan Knill failed to keep the club outside the relegation places. This was despite O'Connor significantly improving his goal tally, hitting nine goals in his 36 appearances. Premier League clubs West Ham United and Newcastle United were linked with O'Connor during the January transfer window, but Baraclough confirmed that no formal approaches were made.[18] In the summer the club rejected an undisclosed bid from Peterborough United.[19]

He played 36 games at Glanford Park in the 2011–12 season as Scunthorpe laboured to a mid-table finish in League One. He was subject to an offer by Hibernian in January 2012, but remained in England.[20] He was released by the club in May 2012.[21]

Rotherham United[edit]

O'Connor signed a two-year contract with Rotherham United in May 2012.[22] He made his "Millers" debut on 18 August 2012, in a 3–0 win over Burton Albion at the New York Stadium.[23] He scored his first goal for the club in 4–0 win over Bradford City on 1 September.[24] He scored again the following week in a 6–2 defeat to Port Vale.[25] On 29 September, he scored twice in a 3–1 win against Oxford United.[26] In all he scored six goal in 40 appearances as he helped Steve Evans's side win promotion out of League Two.

He made 34 appearances in the 2013–14 campaign, helping the club to reach the League One play-off final. He was an unused substitute at Wembley Stadium as Rotherham secured promotion with a penalty shoot-out victory against Leyton Orient.[27] He was released by the club in May 2014.[28]

Port Vale[edit]

O'Connor signed a one-year contract with League One club Port Vale in July 2014.[29] He scored his first goal for the club on 26 August, hitting the net from 35-yards out in a 3–2 defeat to Cardiff City at Vale Park.[30]

International career[edit]

O'Connor was a regular captain for Northern Ireland at every youth level up to under-20[31] and scored six goals at under-17 level.[32] However O'Connor was called up to play for the Republic of Ireland under-21s for a friendly against Luxembourg in October 2006.[31] He subsequently had to withdraw from the squad. In February 2007 he was also selected for the Republic under-21 squad to play in the Madeira Cup,[33] but did not play in any of the three games involved.[3] On 16 November 2007 he made his debut for the Northern Ireland under-21s, scoring in a 5–0 win against Luxembourg.[34] On 20 November he scored again for the under-21s in a 3–0 win against Moldova.[35] On 6 February 2008 he also played against Israel.[36] All three of these games were qualifiers for the 2009 European Under-21 Championship.

On 26 March 2008 O'Connor made his senior international debut for Northern Ireland in a 4–1 win against Georgia in friendly at Windsor Park; he came on as half-time substitute for Damien Johnson.[37] He made his competitive debut on 10 September 2008, playing in a 0–0 draw with the Czech Republic in a World Cup qualification match.[38]

He won a cap for the Northern Ireland B team in a 3–0 defeat to Scotland B at Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld on 6 May 2009.[39]

He returned to the international scene after a three year absence on 10 September 2013, when he featured in a 3–2 defeat to Luxembourg in a World Cup qualification game at Stade Josy Barthel.[40]

Style of play[edit]

Speaking in July 2014, Crewe Alexandra and Port Vale teammate Tom Pope described O'Connor as "[having] everything. He’s got the range of passing, he sits in there and gets the ball moving and he gets stuck in. He whips a great ball in, has great free kicks and a lot of quality."[41]

Personal life[edit]

While on Northern Ireland under-21 international duty in December 2007, O'Connor was one of a number of players investigated by Irish Football Association for his involvement in an alleged sex tape that was published on YouTube.[42]

Career statistics[edit]

Club statistics[edit]

Club Division Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Crewe Alexandra Championship 2005–06[43] 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
League One 2006–07[44] 29 0 0 0 2 1 3 0 34 1
2007–08[45] 23 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 23 0
2008–09[46] 23 3 3 0 3 2 1 0 30 5
Total 77 3 3 0 5 3 4 0 89 6
Lincoln City (loan) League Two 2008–09[46] 10 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 1
Total 10 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 1
Scunthorpe United Championship 2009–10[47] 32 2 0 0 4 0 0 0 36 2
2010–11[48] 32 8 1 0 3 1 0 0 36 9
League One 2011–12[49] 33 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 36 2
Total 97 12 3 0 7 1 1 0 108 13
Rotherham United League Two 2012–13[50] 35 6 4 0 0 0 1 0 40 6
League One 2013–14[51] 29 1 1 0 2 0 2 0 34 1
Total 64 7 5 0 2 0 3 0 74 7
Port Vale League One 2014–15[52] 4 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 6 1
Total 4 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 6 1
Career total 252 23 10 0 16 5 8 0 286 28

International goals and caps[edit]

Northern Ireland's goal tally first.

International appearances and goals
# Date Venue Opponent Result Competition Goal(s)
2008
1 26 March Windsor Park, Belfast  Georgia 4–1 Friendly 0
2 20 August Hampden Park, Glasgow  Scotland 0–0 Friendly 0
3 10 September Windsor Park, Belfast  Czech Republic 0–0 FIFA World Cup qualification 0
4 15 October Windsor Park, Belfast  San Marino 4–0 FIFA World Cup qualification 0
5 19 November Windsor Park, Belfast  Hungary 0–2 Friendly 0
2009
6 6 June Stadio Romeo Anconetani, Pisa  Italy 0–3 Friendly 0
7 14 October Generali Arena, Prague  Czech Republic 0–0 FIFA World Cup qualification 0
8 14 November Windsor Park, Belfast  Serbia 0–1 Friendly 0
2010
9 3 March Qemal Stafa Stadium, Tirana  Albania 0–1 Friendly 0
10 17 November Windsor Park, Belfast  Morocco 1–1 Friendly 0
2013
11 10 September Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg  Luxembourg 2–3 FIFA World Cup qualification 0

Honours[edit]

with Rotherham United

References[edit]

  1. ^ Finn, Stephen (18 October 2006). "Wilson aiming to come of age". Independent. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  2. ^ FAI responds over NI defections BBC Sport, 25 October 2006
  3. ^ a b Ferguson, Paul. I can be Northern Ireland's perfect middleman, says O’Connor Belfast Telegraph, 9 October 2008
  4. ^ a b c Mixu ponders Hibs bid for Crewe star O'Connor Scotsman.com, 24 April 2009
  5. ^ Vignes, Spencer (26 February 2006). "Bell tolls for Brighton". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Crewe 4-2 Millwall". BBC Sport. 30 April 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Grimsby 0-3 Crewe". BBC Sport. 23 August 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "Team of the Week". football-league.co.uk. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Crewe 2-0 Colchester". BBC Sport. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Crewe 3-4 Southend". BBC Sport. 20 September 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Liverpool 2-1 Crewe". BBC Sport. 23 September 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "Crewe manager demands discipline". BBC Sport. 5 February 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Crewe's O'Connor put up for loan". BBC Sport. 4 March 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "Midfielder O'Connor joins Lincoln". BBC Sport. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  15. ^ "O'Connor returns from Imps loan". BBC Sport. 15 April 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "O'Connor set for Scunthorpe move". BBC Sport. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Iron sign up O'Connor and Wright". BBC Sport. 6 July 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "No bids for O'Connor - Scunthorpe United boss". BBC Sport. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Scunthorpe United reject Peterborough bid for O'Connor". BBC Sport. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Hibs bid for Scunthorpe United midfielder Michael O'Connor". BBC Sport. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "Cliff Byrne 'gutted' by Scunthorpe United departure". BBC Sport. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  22. ^ Rotherham sign midfielder Michael O'Connor BBC Sport, 30 May 2012
  23. ^ "Rotherham 3–0 Burton Albion" BBC Sport. 18 August 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  24. ^ "Rotherham 4–0 Bradford" BBC Sport. 1 September 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  25. ^ "Port Vale 6–2 Rotherham" BBC Sport. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  26. ^ "Rotherham 3–1 Oxford" BBC Sport. 29 September 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  27. ^ Maiden, Phil (25 May 2014). "Leyton Orient 2 - 2 Rotherham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  28. ^ "Rotherham United: Michael O'Connor heads released list". BBC Sport. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  29. ^ "Michael Brown, Steve Jennings & Michael O'Connor join Port Vale". BBC Sport. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  30. ^ "Port Vale 2, Cardiff City 3". The Sentinel. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  31. ^ a b O'Connor named in NI U21 panel BBC Sport, 7 November 2007
  32. ^ Michael O'Connor UEFA.com
  33. ^ Changes to under 21 team SoccerScene.ie
  34. ^ NI U21 5–0 Luxembourg U21 BBC Sport, 16 November 2007
  35. ^ N Ireland U21 3–0 Moldova U21 BBC Sport, 20 November 2007
  36. ^ Srur strike revives Israel hopes UEFA.com, 6 February 2008
  37. ^ McCaig, Alvin (25 March 2008). "Northern Ireland 4-1 Georgia". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  38. ^ Winrow, Ian (11 September 2008). "Northern Irish keep the home fires burning for Worthington". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  39. ^ Duncan, Colin (7 May 2009). "Scotland B 3 Northern Ireland B 0". Daily Record. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  40. ^ McCaig, Alvin (10 September 2013). "Luxembourg 3 - 2 Northern Ireland". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  41. ^ Baggaley, Mike (15 July 2014). "Tom Pope says Michael O'Connor deal would be great for Port Vale". The Sentinel. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  42. ^ Morse, Peter (12 December 2007). "Footballer under investigation". Crewe Chronicle. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  43. ^ "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2005/2006". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  44. ^ "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2006/2007". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  45. ^ "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2007/2008". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  46. ^ a b "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2008/2009". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  47. ^ "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2009/2010". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  48. ^ "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2010/2011". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  49. ^ "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2011/2012". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  50. ^ "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2012/2013". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  51. ^ "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2013/2014". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  52. ^ "Games played by Michael O'Connor in 2014/2015". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 

External links[edit]