Liam O'Brien (footballer, born 1964)

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Liam O'Brien
Personal information
Full name William Francis O'Brien[1][2]
Date of birth (1964-09-05) 5 September 1964 (age 53)
Place of birth Dublin, Ireland
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
Stella Maris
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1983 Bohemians 5 (1)
1983–1986 Shamrock Rovers 70 (21)
1986–1988 Manchester United 31 (2)
1988–1994 Newcastle United 151 (19)
1994–1999 Tranmere Rovers 181 (12)
1999–2000 Cork City 27 (4)
2000–2002 Bohemians 7 (0)
Total 472 (59)
National team
1986 League of Ireland XI 2 (0)
1986–1996 Republic of Ireland 16 (0)
1989 Republic of Ireland U23 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

William Francis "Liam" O'Brien (born 5 September 1964) is an Irish former footballer who played for Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Tranmere Rovers and Cork City.

Club career[edit]

O'Brien began his career with the schoolboy club Stella Maris. He began his senior career under Billy Young at Bohemians where he was also a youth international representing his country at the 1983 UEFA European Under-18 Football Championship where Ireland were knocked out despite not losing a game.

In April 1983 he played for the League of Ireland XI U21s against their Italian League counterparts who included Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli in their team [1].

After only five League appearances, he signed for Shamrock Rovers in September 1983.

After having won his third League of Ireland title with Shamrock Rovers in 1986, and making six appearances in European competition and 118 total appearances, O'Brien became Ron Atkinson's last signing as manager of Manchester United. He joined the Reds for an initial fee of £50,000.[3]

Alex Ferguson took over from Atkinson as manager in November 1986, and O'Brien made his debut in the 1986–87 season, making nine appearances, including an appearance in January 1987 where he was shown a red card just 85 seconds into a game against Southampton. The sending-off is the quickest dismissal in club history.[4] The majority of his appearances in the 1987–88 season were as a substitute, and that summer, frustrated by lack of first-team opportunities, he joined Newcastle United in a £275,000 move after 36 appearances (31 in the League) & two goals for Manchester United.

His career at St James' Park brought mixed fortunes. O'Brien suffered relegation from the top flight in the 1988–89 season. However, he played a major role as Newcastle won the First Division title in 1993, making 33 appearances and scoring six goals.

O'Brien found himself surplus to requirements as Newcastle rejoined the top flight and subsequently made a £350,000 move to Tranmere Rovers after a successful loan period. After Tranmere, he signed for Cork City, where he played in the UEFA Cup before returning to Bohemians in 2000 as player-coach. He enjoyed some great European nights during this season as Bohs knocked out Aberdeen and beat 1.FC Kaiserslautern. He also played a part as Bohs won the League and Cup Double before retiring as a player.

International career[edit]

O'Brien played for the Republic of Ireland national under-19 football team that qualified for the 1983 UEFA European Under-18 Football Championship where despite remaining unbeaten in a group that included eventual winners France they were eliminated. He was also a Republic of Ireland international, winning his first cap while still at Shamrock Rovers. In all he won 16 caps as well as an U23 cap and was part of the UEFA Euro 1988 squad.

Coaching career[edit]

After retiring as a player, O'Brien had spells as assistant manager at Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers. He was appointed first team coach of Hibernian in November 2011 by Pat Fenlon.[5] O'Brien left Hibernian after the end of the 2012–13 season.


His brother Mick O'Brien (born 28 November 1970) played for Kilkenny City A.F.C. and Longford Town and his son Conor currently plays for Longford.



Shamrock Rovers
Newcastle United