O'Keefe playing for Cardiff City in 2015
|Full name||Stuart Antony Alan O'Keefe|
|Date of birth||4 March 1991|
|Place of birth||Eye, England|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Milton Keynes Dons
(on loan from Cardiff City)
|2014||→ Blackpool (loan)||4||(0)|
|2017–||→ Milton Keynes Dons (loan)||13||(3)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 02:05, 5 April 2017 (UTC).
Stuart Antony Alan O'Keefe (born 4 March 1991) is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English League One side Milton Keynes Dons, on loan from Championship side Cardiff City.
He began his career with Ipswich Town, spending six years in the club's youth academy system, but was released as a teenager without making an appearance for the first-team. Following his release, O'Keefe joined the academy at Southend United, making his professional debut for the club the following year in 2008, during a Football League One match, at the age of 17. In 2010, he completed a move to Football League Championship side Crystal Palace on a free transfer and went on to make over 50 appearances in all competitions for the club during a five-year spell, helping the club gain promotion to the Premier League via the 2013 Football League Championship play-off Final, also spending a brief period on loan at Blackpool in late 2014. In January 2015, he moved to Cardiff City for an undisclosed fee.
Having attracted the attention of scouts from several clubs whilst playing for local youth side Scole Lads, O'Keefe was invited to train with Norwich City's under-9 team. However, he later signed a youth deal with their East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town, joining the club at the age of nine, playing alongside Jordan Rhodes and Ed Upson in the academy during his time at the club. However, he failed to make an appearance for the first-team and was released at the end of the 2006–07 season after the Tractor Boys decided against offering him a scholarship, believing that he would be unable to compete physically at under-18 level. O'Keefe later commented on his release "It was disappointing to be released by Ipswich, especially since I had been there from such a young age, but I always kept believing in myself". Following his release, O'Keefe spent one month on trial at Aston Villa and impressed the club's coaching staff, including youth coach Gordon Cowans, but was forced to leave the club, who were only willing to offer him a one-year youth contract, after struggling to travel to the Midlands based club on a regular basis as he continued to prepare for his GCSEs. He was also offered a trial with Nottingham Forest, scoring during a friendly match with the club but O'Keefe again moved on after the club stalled over offering him a contract, the Reds again only willing to offer him a one-year youth deal.
O'Keefe attended a trial with Southend United in November 2007 at the age of 16, having been recommended to the club by a scout working for Manchester United, and was offered a two-year scholarship with the Shrimpers just days after arriving at the club. In his first season with the academy, O'Keefe was part of the Southend side that reached the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup and also featured for the reserves on several occasions. At the start of the 2008–09 season, O'Keefe was handed a first-team squad for the first time and made his debut for Southend on 18 November 2008, at home to Telford United in a 2–0 win in the FA Cup first-round replay as a late substitute in place of Alan McCormack, having signed his first professional contract with the club the week before. He made his debut in the Football League One two months later against Leyton Orient on 20 January 2009 in a 1–1 away draw, again coming on as a substitute in the 84th minute for Alex Revell and nearly scoring late in the game with a volley.
The following week, after one further substitute appearance, O'Keefe was handed his first league start for Southend by manager Steve Tilson against Leeds United at Elland Road on 27 January 2009. However, this proved to be his last appearance for the club during the 2008–09 season. Despite this, O'Keefe was nominated for the Football League One Apprentice of the Year award, eventually losing out to Carlisle United defender Tom Aldred. The following season, O'Keefe featured more regularly for the first-team, making nine appearances in total despite missing two months of the season due to a hernia injury sustained in a match against Millwall on 26 January 2010. Following his departure from Roots Hall, the club's head of youth director Ricky Duncan praised O'Keefe's attitude, stating "Stuart was always very driven and single-minded and he was different to a lot of the other lads in that regard."
On 18 August 2010, O'Keefe signed for Crystal Palace on an initial one-year contract after impressing manager George Burley in a trial match against West Ham United reserves, having been recommended to Burley by his assistant manager Dougie Freedman who had played alongside O'Keefe at Southend. On his signing, Burley described O'Keefe as "a young player with big potential". The transfer was free, although Southend would receive a percentage of any transfer fee for O'Keefe in his first 36 months at Selhurst Park. He made his debut for the club on 20 November 2010 as a substitute in place of Paddy McCarthy during a 3–2 defeat to Sheffield United, later being substituted himself in the 89th minute of the match for Pablo Couñago as Palace pushed for an equaliser. In his first season at Selhurst Park, O'Keefe was a back up player in the squad and made just four appearances during the course of the season. In the 2011–12 season, O'Keefe was given a chance to impress early on in the season in the League Cup, playing five times in the competition during the season as the Eagles reached the semi-final, including starting in the side's 2–1 quarter final victory over Manchester United on 30 November 2011 at Old Trafford. Later in the season, O'Keefe was part of the end of season run in due to injuries and finished the season with 19 appearances for the first-team which saw him offered a new three-year contract with the Eagles that would last until summer 2015.
During the 2012–13 season, Palace achieved promotion to the Premier League via the Championship play-offs after finishing fifth, however O'Keefe featured just five times in the league during the season although he did make two appearances during the play-offs, replacing Wilfried Zaha as a late substitute during the second leg of their semi-final victory over Brighton & Hove Albion and then playing the majority of the 2013 Football League Championship play-off Final after replacing Kagisho Dikgacoi due to injury after just 17 minutes as the Eagles claimed a 1–0 victory in extra-time to seal promotion. At the start of the club's Premier League campaign the following season, on 31 August 2013, O'Keefe sealed a 3–1 victory in Palace's first three points of their Premier League return in the 92nd minute at home to Sunderland with a curling 20 yard shot after coming on as a late substitute, the first senior goal of his career and what later turned out to be his only goal for Palace.
At the start of the 2014–15 season, O'Keefe featured in Palace's opening two matches of the Premier League season, defeats to Arsenal and West Ham United, making his 50th appearance for the club in all competitions against the Hammers, but suffered an ankle injury in the latter which kept him out of the side for two months that saw him omitted from the club's 25-man squad for the Premier League seassn by new Palace manager Neil Warnock. Lacking match fitness on his return, Warnock made O'Keefe available for a loan move in order to gain playing time and, following a potential loan move to Championship side Charlton Athletic collapsing after the Addicks decided to sign Francis Coquelin on loan from Arsenal instead, Warnock stated that he could not "understand how nobody has come in for him". On 27 November 2014, O'Keefe eventually secured a loan move away from Palace on the final day of the emergency loan window, joining struggling Championship side Blackpool on loan until 1 January 2015, along with Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Kevin Foley. He made his debut for the Tangerines on 29 November 2014, starting in a 1–1 draw with Rotherham United, being replaced by Nathan Delfouneso after 56 minutes, and went on to make four appearances for the side before returning to Palace. On his return to Selhurst Park, O'Keefe found himself under a new manager for the fourth time since August 2014, following the appointment of Alan Pardew. Despite being handed a starting spot in Pardew's first match in charge at the club, a 4–0 win over non-league side Dover Athletic in the third round of the FA Cup on 4 January 2015, he was later informed that he was not part of the manager's new plans at the club.
On 28 January 2015, it was announced that O'Keefe had joined Championship club Cardiff City, who beat off competition from Millwall, for an undisclosed fee on a two-and-a-half-year contract, joining former Palace teammates Danny Gabbidon and Kagisho Dikgacoi at the Cardiff City Stadium. He made his debut against Derby County, having trained with the side for just two days following the completion of his transfer, in a 2–0 loss and featured in the following two matches but, with heavy competition from Peter Whittingham, Joe Ralls and Aron Gunnarsson, he did not appear for the first team again until 11 April and made a total of just six appearances during the second half of the season for the Bluebirds.
The start of the following season continued the same trend for O'Keefe as he made just eight appearances during the first five months of the season before returning to the starting line up against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 16 January 2016, in a game that Cardiff went on to win 3–1. O'Keefe's performances saw him establish himself in the first-team and his attitude to being left out of the side for long periods of time drew praise from Cardiff manager Russell Slade who commented "Stuart has got a fantastic attitude, he's a real, real good professional, even when he wasn't in the side he was pushing. [...] some players when they're not in the side get disillusioned and want to move on, but not O'Keefe." He later scored his first goal for the club in a 2–0 victory during a Severnside Derby match against Bristol City on 5 March 2016, adding his second one month later with the winning goal during a 2–1 win over Derby County on 2 April. He finished the season having made 27 appearances for the club in all competitions, the most appearances he has made during a season to date and the first time in his career he made over 20 appearances in a single season.
His impressive form during the second half of the 2015–16 season saw him handed a new contract during the summer, keeping him at Cardiff until 2019. After featuring as an unused substitute during the first game of the 2016–17 season, O'Keefe was handed his first appearance of the season in a 1–0 defeat to Bristol Rovers in the first round of the EFL Cup, where he suffered a broken arm in extra-time. He made his return to the side one month later on 25 September, helping Cardiff to their second win of the season during a 2–1 win against Rotherham United. However, with first-team opportunities limited at Cardiff, on 31 January 2017, O'Keefe joined League One side Milton Keynes Dons on loan until 1 May 2017, making his debut for the club as a substitute in place of Chuks Aneke during a 1–1 draw with Bolton Wanderers on 4 February 2017.
Style of play
After originally beginning his career as a winger, O'Keefe switched to central midfield and was described by former Cardiff City manager Russell Slade as a "hard working, energetic, athletic midfield player." Slade also praised O'Keefe for his determination when not playing regularly in the first-team, stating " Stuart will roll his sleeves up, work harder, to try and show his manager and the coaching staff that he's capable of playing in the first team."
- As of match played 18 March 2017
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Southend United||2008–09||League One||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||4||0|
|Southend United Total||10||0||2||0||0||0||1||0||13||0|
|Crystal Palace Total||36||1||5||0||8||0||2||0||51||1|
|Cardiff City Total||38||2||2||0||3||0||0||0||43||2|
|Milton Keynes Dons (loan)||2016–17||League One||13||3||—||—||—||13||3|
- Crystal Palace
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