Spotlight: Kevin O’Connor
If you’re an armchair football fan who only watches Sky Soccer Saturday and Match of the Day, then Kevin O’Connor may not be a name you’re familiar with. However, if you’re a Brentford fan, you’ve probably grown up chanting the Irishman’s name every single week for the last decade.
In a sport where money talks now more than ever, it’s less and less common to find a player who spends their entire career at one club. There aren’t too many Irish players who have done so – usually only Gary Kelly of Leeds United springs to mind. However, right-back Kevin O’Connor joined Brentford schoolboys in 1995 and has been there ever since.
Starting out as a striker and scoring 23 goals in 30 games for the juniors, O’Connor made the step-up to the senior side under the stewardship of Ron Noades, and has seen ten other people manage the club in his time there. Wally Downes was one such manager, who converted O’Connor into a right midfielder, and later Martin Allen moved him to the right of defence, where he has mostly been ever since. That said, O’Connor has filled in in centre midfield, central defence, and left back when called upon.
Due to his loyalty to the club, as well as his consistent displays, O’Connor is the team’s captain, and led the side to the 2008-09 League Two title. At the moment, the 28 year old is sixth on the Bees’ all-time most appearances list, and needs just 21 more games to climb to fifth. He currently has played 412 games for the club (scoring 39 goals), although that’s a fair bit shy of the leader Ken Coote, with 559 appearances from 1949 to 1964.
Born in Blackburn, O’Connor declared for his parents’ country (father Pat is from Kerry, and mother Sheila from Mayo), and played for Republic of Ireland under 21s, winning six underage caps.
He’s already played ten games this season, including a memorable victory over Hull in the League Cup. Brentford take on Everton in the cup’s third round on Tuesday night.