Aiden O’Brien hoping to build on dream Irish debut
Millwall striker impressed with a goal and his tireless work rate against Poland
Ireland’s Aiden O’Brien scores against Poland. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
After a dream debut Aiden O’Brien is hoping that his goal and wider performance in Poland on Tuesday night will be enough to earn him opportunities with Ireland in the bigger games to come over the course of the coming European Championship campaign.
The 24 year-old, who was handed his first start in part because some of those ahead of him the pecking order were not available, received considerable praise from Martin O’Neill after the game . The manager expressed particular satisfaction with the Millwall striker’s tireless work rate over the course of the night. The player may be shocked with how well the night went for him generally but that bit is no great surprise with O’Brien clearly seeing it as one of his key selling points.
“I just wanted to get out there and work my socks off,” he says. “But I always give 100 per cent, every week; I never come off the pitch feeling I could have done more. That’s what a lot of managers want these days and if I can nick a few goals for my club, which I have been doing, hopefully I’ll be back in this squad for the next campaign.”
O’Brien has a couple for his club so far this season but as the manager acknowledged afterwards it would probably be more if he actually got to play up front in the Championship. Instead, he generally finds himself used out wide, something he insists need not be a barrier to him being a threat around the opposition area.
“I’ve always been a goalscorer,” he insists, “whether I play out wide for Millwall, whether I play in behind, whether I play up front, I always sniff out the ball.
“I always know where it is going to drop and I always score goals. Whatever position I play in, if I get a chance, nine times out of 10, I’d back myself to put it in the net and that’s what happened here. I got my one chance and I put it in the back of the net.”
His delight at having done it was entirely obvious and he says there will be a little celebrating to be done back in London before Saturday’s league game against Leeds.
“I am over the moon to get that start; my family is so proud of me and I am so proud of myself, I’m speechless. I’m just going to go home now and hopefully see my family and celebrate.”
It is, he hopes however, just the first of many big nights playing for Ireland.
“I’m here to be counted; one day I want to be leading the line for Ireland whenever we have got games... for the World Cup, whatever it may.
“I want to be here for the long run and today hopefully I made a statement. Doing something like that has been a dream for me since I was a little boy. It all starts off a dream and now I have made it reality.
“I’ve just got to sit down now and let it just sink in because I don’t want it to be my last goal. I don’t want my standards to drop with club football or with my national team. I want to keep scoring for my country every time I put the shirt on.”