Posted on October 30, 2015 in 'News'

Sydney FC new recruit Brandon O’Neill is not well known to every A-League fan as yet, but if things continue in the same vein there is every reason to believe the former ECU Joondalup and Perth Glory defensive midfielder is on his way to becoming a household name in the Harbour City.

Born in Perth, to parents from the UK, O’Neill spent some of his time abroad before deciding to pursue a football career in the A-League. Coming through the ECU Academy, he signed with Glory in 2010, but when Sydney FC came calling the 21-year-old grabbed his chance with both hands.

He beat the more experienced Mickael Tavares to a starting spot and put in a Man of the Match performance in their opening 1-1 draw against Melbourne City last weekend, before laying on the goal for Milos Ninkovic to win the ‘Sydney Derby’ last week. O’Neill suggested if the Sky Blues could find a way to victory while in second gear, their best efforts would outdo anyone. “We’ve got so much room for improvement, it’s incredible,” he said. “We know deep down that we can play a lot better than what we did last week. You look at our team, and we’ve only played three games together as a team this season… if we can string results together and improve in performance the sky is the limit for us.”

The midfielder, who was helping coach at the ECU Academy last season said it had been a long hard road to success for him. “I probably realised when I made the Western Australian State Under-14 team to compete in the Nationals at Coffs Harbour. I knew then it was hard to make a state team let alone play in the actual team, so when I was selected and played every game over there,” he said. “I remember saying to myself that this is all I wanted to do with my life, which is a big thing to realise at 14 years of age when your friends are getting jobs at fast food restaurants and retail outlets. But football was the only job I ever wanted to do.”

A good upbringing from his family was crucial in his goal to become a footballer, and he said they are still the biggest influence on his football, until Graham Arnold came on the scene. “My family probably played the biggest role of all in helping me realise my professional dream – if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today. They sacrificed a lot for me growing up, especially when I was making my way through the grades at school, and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me,” O’Neill said. “Arnie is well regarded not only by me but all the players he has coached. He has a way to get the best out of you and makes you go into games feeling confident. I couldn’t speak more highly of him. He’s made me feel so welcome and he’s taken my game to a new level and I love working with him. He’s a laid back character and always smiling. Sure, on the sidelines he’s very competitive, as we all are, and only expects the best, and it’s great for the team.”

The decision to leave Perth Glory was a huge one for O’Neill, but he wasn’t getting the opportunity and when Sydney called he knew what the best decision for his career was. “Glory will always hold a special place in my heart given that I’ve come from Perth – I’ve grown up supporting them. But when the biggest club in the country is knocking on your door, you can’t possibly turn them down,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the professionalism of both clubs, in particular Sydney FC. At Sydney everything is done as a team. From fitness to training and nutrition, everything is well prepared and the environment here allows you to thrive. I wake up with a smile on my face every day.”