29th June – Andy O’Brien

Andrew O’Brien like his namesake Liam will go down in Newcastle United history for scoring a goal in the Tyne-Wear Derby.

The centre back, might not be the first name that springs to mind when thinking of goalscorers in a derby but was a fan favourite for a while, not just at Newcastle but at many of his other teams.

O’Brien started his career at Bradford City and made his debut in 1996 against QPR and quickly became a first team regular. During the 1998-99 season he played 34 times, helping the club gain promotion to the Premier League. The team struggled in the Premier League and barely survived relegation in the first season but as the club were facing relegation and a lot of financial difficulties they had to sell their best assets. After 133 league appearances for Bradford, O’Brien joined Newcastle United for £2 million.

Francis Jeffers and Andy O''Brien

In one of his first games for the club he scored an equaliser against Sunderland and he followed this up by being a dependable defender in the next season as the club qualified for the Champions League. Despite the arrival of Titus Bramble and Jonathan Woodgate during the 2002-03 season, O’Brien managed to stay first choice.

O'Brien NU

His form was solid for Newcastle up until the end of the 2004-05 season when his performances took a dip and along with the club’s disappointing 14th place finish it was time for the defender to leave. Portsmouth signed him for £2 million and after a disappointing start under manager Alain Perrin, his form picked up throughout the season and was once again seen as a solid player.

In his second season he found opportunities limited and on the 13th August 2007 he signed for Bolton Wanderers. He quickly settled in at the club and impressed the fans so much that he was voted their Player of the Season. He captained the side on many occasions and on the 11th April 2009 he scored his first goal for over four years in a game against Chelsea. But after Owen Coyle took charge, O’Brien was left on the bench. Despite many clubs being interested the manager didn’t want to let him go as he still saw him as an asset.

O'Brien BW

The next move of his career was to Leeds United, initially on loan and then permanently on the 1st January 2011. Just days after signing he put in one of the performances of his career in an FA Cup game against Arsenal. But things turned sour afterwards with a few mistakes in the opening few games of the following season and the defender wanted to leave after the fans gave him a tough time. The final move of his career was to the MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps where he played 50 league games.

The final word can go to former Portsmouth Chief Executive Peter Storrie. “We have signed a first-class player who has played at the top for both club and country and has a very prominent record.”

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23rd April – Lee Young-Pyo

Not many South Koreans have played in the Premier League but when they have they have usually been very consistent and never let their team down.

Lee Young-Pyo played over 100 times for his country and had a very good club career that led to him playing in a Champions League semi final. But it was at Anyang LG Cheetahs where he began playing and showed good form from an early age which meant he was picked for the 2002 World Cup squad. South Korea performed brilliantly in the tournament and reached the semi finals. The player himself put in some impressive performances and was linked with moves away from his homeland.

It was the former South Korea manager Guus Hiddink that brought him to Europe to play for Dutch side PSV. Lee alongside his countryman Park Ji Sung helped the club to the Eredivisie title twice and the KNVB Cup. After playing 109 times for the team he was heavily linked with moves to France and England but PSV were reluctant to let him go. In the end he was allowed to leave and he joined Tottenham Hotspur. Hiddink said on his departure. “I didn’t want him to go. But he did well from his very first working day and has made so much progress.”
Lee PSV
Lee settled into the Premier League very quickly and in his first season played nearly every game with Spurs conceding the fourth lowest in the league. Martin Jol was impressed by his signing and the pedigree he brought with him. “Lee has played at PSV for three years and was in the South Korean side which reached the semi finals of the World Cup. He has played in the Champions League – reaching the semi finals last season – and was the best left back in Holland.”

He played mostly at left back at Spurs but was moved to right back for the start of the 2006-07 season. However he lost his place after the club signed Pascal Chimbonda and he could not dislodge Benoit Assou-Ekotto from the left back spot. When he did finally win his place back he suffered a season ending knee injury against Sevilla but he did manage to recover enough to win a League Cup winners medal in the next and his final season at the club.
Lee Spurs
His next move was to the German side Borussia Dortmund where he spent one season playing 22 times and even though he signed a contract extension, he moved to Al-Hilal in 2009. He only spent two years in Saudi Arabia but he did score his first goal in five years and won the league title both years he was at the club.
Lee Vancouver
His final move was to Vancouver Whitecaps where he enjoyed a lot of personal success and was named their player of the year in 2012. Lee played his final professional game on 27th October 2013 and was given the match ball by his teammates after a very solid performance. The last word can go Martin Rennie the Whitecaps head coach. “Lee is a quality individual and leader – both on and off the pitch – that has excelled at all levels of the game.”