James O'Connor (footballer, born 1984)

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James O'Connor
Personal information
Full name James Francis Edward O'Connor[1]
Date of birth (1984-11-20) 20 November 1984 (age 32)
Place of birth Birmingham, England
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
Walsall
Number 4
Youth career
1997–2004 Aston Villa
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2005 Aston Villa 0 (0)
2004 Port Vale (loan) 13 (0)
2005 Bournemouth (loan) 6 (0)
2005–2006 Bournemouth 39 (1)
2006–2012 Doncaster Rovers 215 (4)
2012–2014 Derby County 22 (1)
2013–2014 Bristol City (loan) 3 (0)
2014– Walsall 109 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16:39, 30 April 2017 (UTC).

James Francis Edward O'Connor (born 20 November 1984) is an English professional footballer who plays as a defender for EFL League One club Walsall.

An FA Youth Cup winner with the Aston Villa youth team, he played on loan at Port Vale before making his name with Bournemouth in the 2005–06 season. Following this he was brought to Doncaster Rovers for a £130,000 fee in May 2006. He established himself as an essential first team player for the club, helping Sean O'Driscoll's side to the Football League Trophy in 2007 and promotion out of the League One play-offs in 2008. Voted Player of the Season at the club in 2009–10, he lost his first team place under Dean Saunders during the 2011–12 relegation campaign as Doncaster were relegated to League One. In August 2012, he joined Derby County for an undisclosed fee, but was transfer listed in May 2013 and loaned out to Bristol City from September 2013 until January 2014. He signed with Walsall in June 2014.

Playing career[edit]

Aston Villa[edit]

O'Connor went to Wheelers Lane Boys' School in Birmingham between 1996 and 2001. He joined the Aston Villa youth set-up in 1997 after his P.E teacher Mr Alan Miller recommended O'Connor to the club as a creative midfield player. He instead established himself as a strong defender, and featured in the 2002 FA Youth Cup win. A traffic collision early in the year had ruled him out for a number of months and he missed the first leg of the semi-final, but returned to help his side resist an Everton attack fronted by Wayne Rooney in the final.

Turning professional with Aston Villa in 2004; later in the year he enjoyed a three-month loan spell at League One side Port Vale to gain first team experience.[2] He played 15 games for Martin Foyle's "Valiants" in 2004–05.

Bournemouth[edit]

Not making the grade at Villa, he joined Bournemouth on loan at the start of the 2004–05 season[3] and in January 2005 signed permanently, after Villa agreed to a free transfer.[4] O'Connor quickly became an integral part of the team, making his name as a tough tackler and promising player, playing in either one of the full-back positions.[5] He scored his first and only goal for the "Cherries" in a 2–2 draw with Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park on 8 April 2006. Recovering from a hand injury,[6] he helped manager Sean O'Driscoll to keep the Dean Court club five points above the League One relegation zone in 2005–06.

Doncaster Rovers[edit]

In May 2006, he was sold to Doncaster Rovers for £130,000 due to Bournemouth's financial difficulties, after manager Dave Penney offered him a three-year contract.[7] Only four months into his career at the Keepmoat Stadium, his former boss Sean O'Driscoll was installed into the management position at Doncaster. O'Connor made a solid start to his Rovers career in the 2006–07 season with consistent performances throughout the season in defence. He capped a fine season by helping the club to Football League Trophy success following a 3–2 win over Bristol Rovers at the Millennium Stadium.

In the 2007–08 season, O'Connor began to excel in the right-back slot, providing width and speed to the Rovers attacks, as well as playing his part as a key player in a solid defence. He recovered from a hernia operation in February to play a vital part in the club's promotion campaign.[8] O'Connor was named Man of the Match as Doncaster beat Leeds United in the League One play-off final at Wembley Stadium.[9] Not long after this he pledged his future to Doncaster by signing a new three-year contract.[10]

During the following season, O'Connor helped Doncaster to secure a 14th-place finish in the Championship. Along the way he scored the only goal in their win against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. O'Connor was awarded all three of the club's available supporters awards, including Player of the Season, for the 2009–10 season after a succession of good performances playing at right-back and centre-half.[11] He scored his only goal of the season away at Brentford in the FA Cup Third Round. He started the 2010–11 season by scoring Doncaster's first goal of the season in a 2–0 win over Preston North End at Deepdale. He went on to make 37 starts despite an injury hampered season, with one of the highlights being his second goal of the season against local rivals Scunthorpe United in a 3–1 win at Glanford Park. However, he lost his first team place after Dean Saunders took charge of the club in September 2011,[12] and watched from the sidelines as "Donny" were relegated out of the Championship in last place in 2011–12.

Derby County[edit]

On 1 August 2012, O'Connor joined Derby County for an undisclosed fee, signing a two-year contract with an option for a further year.[13] O'Connor made his debut at Pride Park in a 2–2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday on 18 August, coming on for Nathan Tyson as a 74th-minute substitute.[14] He made his first start three days later, in a 2–0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium.[15] Two days after the Bolton match, Derby manager Nigel Clough praised O'Connor by saying; "With only two [league] games played this season, we’ve seen the value of James already. He can play anywhere across the back four and he just slots in with no fuss whatsoever. He's a good, competent Championship player and there aren’t too many about like him who can come in and do a job in so many positions; he's a very good and important player to have in the camp."[16] He scored his first goal for the "Rams" in a 2–0 home win over Barnsley on 6 November.[17] O'Connor covered at left back for the injured Gareth Roberts in December 2012, after he fell behind Jake Buxton and Mark O'Brien in the pecking order in central defence. In February 2013, it was reported that O'Connor had picked up a knee injury.[18] In March, he returned to full first team training, with a scheduled return to the match-day squad for Derby's game on Good Friday, 29 March.[19] However, he did not make a first team appearance before the end of the campaign, and ended the 2012–13 season with 23 appearances. In May 2013, O'Connor was informed that he would not figure regularly at Pride Park during the upcoming 2013–14 season, and he was allowed to look for a move elsewhere.[20] In August, it was reported the O'Connor was training with Bristol City of League One with the view of a permanent transfer.[21]

On 2 September 2013, O'Connor signed a loan deal until 13 January with Bristol City again linking up with Sean O'Driscoll, with a view to a permanent transfer.[22] However, he soon picked up a thigh injury that restricted him to just four appearances.[23] New "Robins" manager Steve Cotterill decided against making the move permanent once the loan period ended. O'Connor did not feature for Derby County in the 2013–14 season and was released in the summer by new manager Steve McClaren.[24]

Walsall[edit]

On 21 June 2014, O'Connor signed a one-year contract with League One side Walsall.[25] "Saddlers" manager Dean Smith had this to say: "In James, we have signed an extremely reliable and solid defender. There were a lot of teams interested in him when he left Derby County, but I am delighted that he has chosen to come here. It certainly is a big bonus for us and I look forward to working with him."[26] He was not named in the squad for the 2015 Football League Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium, a 2–0 defeat to Bristol City, but denied rumours that he and Smith had fallen out over the issue.[27][28] He was frequently used at right-back during the 2014–15 season, but returned to centre-back for the final stretch of the season as he helped Walsall to steer clear of the relegation zone.[29] In March 2016, he signed a two-year extension to his contract to keep him at the club until summer 2018.[30] Interim manager Jon Whitney stated that "he’s been one of our most consistent performers this year and his experience is invaluable, on and off the pitch".[31] Walsall struggled at the start of the 2016–17 season, before a switch to a 3–5–2 formation helped to shore up the defence.[32]

Style of play[edit]

Able to play across the back four,[18] O'Connor possesses vision, stamina and pace going forward, whilst also remaining organised and disciplined whilst defending.[33]

Career statistics[edit]

As of 30 April 2017.
Club statistics
Club Season League FA Cup EFL Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Aston Villa 2004–05[34] Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Port Vale (loan) 2004–05[34] League One 13 0 0 0 0 0 2[a] 0 15 0
Bournemouth (loan) 2004–05[34] League One 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
Bournemouth 2005–06[35] League One 39 1 1 0 1 0 2[a] 0 43 1
Total 45 1 1 0 1 0 2 0 49 1
Doncaster Rovers 2006–07[36] League One 40 1 3 0 3 0 3[a] 0 49 1
2007–08[37] League One 43 0 2 0 2 0 2[a] 0 49 0
2008–09[38] Championship 32 1 4 0 0 0 36 1
2009–10[39] Championship 38 0 2 1 1 0 41 1
2010–11[40] Championship 34 2 2 0 1 0 37 2
2011–12[41] Championship 28 0 1 0 1 0 30 0
Total 215 4 14 1 8 0 5 0 242 5
Derby County 2012–13[42] Championship 22 1 1 0 0 0 23 1
2013–14[43] Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 22 1 1 0 0 0 23 1
Bristol City (loan) 2013–14[43] League One 3 0 0 0 0 0 1[a] 0 4 0
Walsall 2014–15[44] League One 32 1 0 0 1 0 2[a] 0 35 1
2015–16[45] League One 37 1 4 0 3 1 3[a][b] 0 47 2
2016–17[46] League One 40 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 40 0
2017–18[47] League One 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 109 2 4 0 4 1 5 0 122 3
Career total 407 8 20 1 13 1 15 0 455 10
  1. ^ a b c d e f g Appearance/s in the EFL Trophy.
  2. ^ Appearance/s in the play-offs.

Honours[edit]

Individual
with Aston Villa
with Doncaster Rovers

References[edit]

  1. ^ "List of Temporary Transfers of Players under Written Contract Between 01/10/2010 and 31/10/2010" (PDF). The Football Association. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  2. ^ "Vale to sign Villa defender". BBC Sport. 2 September 2004. Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  3. ^ "O'Connor seals Cherries loan move". BBC Sport. 18 February 2005. Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  4. ^ "O'Connor seals Bournemouth switch". BBC Sport. 24 March 2005. Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "O'Connor enjoys new Cherries role". BBC Sport. 9 December 2005. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "O'Connor injury rocks Cherries". BBC Sport. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Doncaster sign defender O'Connor". BBC Sport. 17 May 2006. Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  8. ^ "Doncaster's O'Connor has surgery". BBC Sport. 27 February 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Lewis, Aimee (25 May 2008). "Doncaster 1–0 Leeds". BBC Sport. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  10. ^ "Doncaster tie up Mills transfer". BBC Sport. 31 July 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  11. ^ "Sharp, O' Connor & Roberts scoop awards". Doncaster Rovers Official Website. 26 April 2010. Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  12. ^ Howson, Dom (12 April 2012). "James O’Connor faces tough times". The Star. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  13. ^ Loakes, Tom (1 August 2012). "Rams Land O'Connor". Derby County. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Questier, Joe (18 August 2012). "Derby County 2–2 Sheffield Wednesday". Derby County. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  15. ^ Questier, Joe (21 August 2012). "Bolton Wanderers 2–0 Derby County". Derby County. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  16. ^ Loakes, Tom (23 August 2012). "A Great Player To Have". Derby County. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  17. ^ "Derby 2–0 Barnsley". BBC Sport. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Nicholson, Steve (11 February 2013). "Derby County manager Nigel Clough is hoping either Jake Buxton or Mark O'Brien can be patched up in time to face Hull City". Derby Telegraph. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  19. ^ DCFC Media (29 March 2013). "O’Connor Edges Closer To Rams Return". Derby County. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  20. ^ "Tyson, Fielding and Robinson available". Derby Telegraph. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2013. [permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Derby County fans say £6m is not enough for starlet Will Hughes". Derby Telegraph. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "O’Connor Agrees City Switch". Derby County. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  23. ^ "Bristol City seek cover for injured defender James O'Connor". BBC Sport. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "Derby County: Callum Ball one of five released by Rams". BBC Sport. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  25. ^ "Walsall snap up O'Connor". Sky Sports. 21 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  26. ^ "Walsall: James O'Connor joins League One side". BBC Sport. 22 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  27. ^ "James O'Connor: Walsall will 'stick together', says Saddlers defender". BBC Sport. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  28. ^ "James O'Connor ready for Walsall battle". Express & Star. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  29. ^ "It's all come good for James O'Connor". Express & Star. 24 April 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  30. ^ "James O'Connor: Walsall centre-back agrees contract extension until 2018". BBC Sport. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  31. ^ "James O'Connor: I can go up with Walsall". Express & Star. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  32. ^ "James O'Connor: Walsall's power is growing". Express and Star. 16 February 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017. 
  33. ^ "profile". doncasterroversfc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  34. ^ a b c "Games played by James O'Connor in 2004/2005". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  35. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2005/2006". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  36. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2006/2007". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  37. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2007/2008". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  38. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2008/2009". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  39. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2009/2010". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  40. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2010/2011". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  41. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2011/2012". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  42. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2012/2013". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  43. ^ a b "Games played by James O'Connor in 2013/2014". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  44. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2014/2015". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  45. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2015/2016". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  46. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2016/2017". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  47. ^ "Games played by James O'Connor in 2017/2018". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 

External links[edit]