Orlando City News Release - www.orlandocitysoccer.com
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City Soccer Club today announced the signing of midfielder James O’Connor, a 14-year veteran of England’s Championship Division, pending USSF approval. The 32-year old Irishman joins the Lions on a free transfer after playing the past three-and-a-half seasons at Sheffield Wednesday.
“There’s huge potential here,” said O’Connor. “The opportunity to work with Adrian [Heath] and Ian [Fuller] and everyone else is great. This is a club that’s going places and is something I definitely want to be a part of.”
O’Connor began his career at 18 with then-Championship side Stoke City. During his five seasons with the Potters, he totaled 209 appearances and 21 goals. He was named Stoke’s Player of the Year for the 2002-2003 season, his final one with the club. O’Connor was then sold to West Bromwich Albion where he made 36 appearances for the Baggies playing in the English Premier League in 2004. During the 2004-2005 season O’Connor went on loan to Burnley, and then made the transfer permanent at midseason after impressing club management with his non-stop effort.
O’Connor spent a total of four seasons with Burnley. He quickly became a fan-favorite amongst Clarets supporters due to his high-energy style of play and work rate. In total, O’Connor made 149 appearances for Burnley and scored 11 goals. Following the 2007-2008 season, he signed with Sheffield Wednesday on a free transfer. O’Connor finished his career in England with three and half years with the Owls, making a total of 125 appearances and scoring seven goals.
During the course of his career O’Connor has made 484 appearances for senior clubs. He will reach the elusive 500 appearance milestone with Orlando City during the 2012 season.
“James has been playing at the top two levels of English football for most of his career,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “He has great personality and professionalism. That’s what he’ll bring to the club. We have younger players, who we have high hopes for, will look at James and see everything he does. He’s going to lead by example. They will see what he brings everyday to training; it’s a great example for our younger guys.”
O’Connor brings additional experience to an already strong Orlando City midfield. He also brings a UEFA “A” coaching license and will be assisting Heath and Asst. Coach Ian Fuller with the teams coaching duties. O’Connor will be a familiar face to one of Orlando City’s current players, midfielder Luke Boden. Boden was a member of the Sheffield Wednesday squad when O’Connor joined the Owls in 2008.
O’Connor joins the squad immediately, and will make his Orlando City debut on February 18 when the Lions welcome Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union to the Citrus Bowl. Tickets for the match are now available by calling 855-ORL-CITY or by visiting www.orlandocitysoccer.com/tickets.
Hometown: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Last Club: Sheffield Wednesday (League One - England)