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I recall some people enquiring a while ago about Ronnie O'Brien. Here's a recent article (bit long but what the heck)
MORE than nine months have passed since the Juventus manager Carlo Ancelotti introduced Ronnie O'Brien for the last 13 minutes of an Intertoto Cup semi-final against the Russian representatives Rostelmash.
In what was his third cameo appearance in the competition, O'Brien slotted in comfortably alongside Edgar Davids, Alessandro del Piero and a host of the other stars who have been the backbone of the challenge by Juventus for this season's Serie A title.
As that campaign reaches its controversial climax at Perugia this afternoon, O'Brien will be further down the food chain, celebrating his own bit-part in FC Crotone's annexing of the Serie C 1, Girone B championship.
Three months ago, Juventus dispatched the 21-year-old from Bray, Co Wicklow, on loan to the little Sicilian club to continue his education. Following a solid rather than spectacular six-month sojourn in Switzerland with Lugano, a detour through the minor leagues of Italian football was regarded as another stage in his development.
When the legendary Juventus vice-president Roberto Bettega met O'Brien's agent Steve Kutner last Thursday afternoon, he outlined an immediate future involving possible spells in France, Belgium and Serie B before O'Brien will even be considered for the club's first team. Having signed the right-winger to a five-year-deal last season, they are in no hurry.
"It's a slow process," says Kutner. "This is one of the biggest clubs in the world and they know what they are doing. They are very happy with how he has done so far. Ronnie is too old to play for the Primavera [youths'] side and because there is no reserve-team football in Italy, the big clubs prefer to send their best young players out on loan rather than have them sitting in the stand.
"After he finishes with Crotone this week, he will go back to Juventus for a week of training where they will assess his physical condition. He will go back to Ireland then for a holiday before returning for Juventus' pre-season training camp. Then they will decide to place him at another club, where he will spend time gaining more valuable experience."
To date, O'Brien hasn't wanted for experiences of varying hues. In February of last year, he sat and listened to Bryan Robson tell him he had no future at Middlesbrough and was being released on a free. Within weeks, the story broke of his outlandish move to Turin, the Italians being so smitten by a video they had seen of O'Brien in action that they swooped and immediately launched a thousand unfortunate comparisons with their only other Irish alumnus, Liam Brady.
"Steve Kutner rang me the night before a reserve game with 'Boro to say there was an important scout coming, so I should ring him before the match, tell him what number I was wearing and what position I would be playing," said O'Brien in an interview last year. "Whatever went wrong, I was left on the bench and only played for the last 20 - but the scout watched the wrong player. He went back to Italy saying I was nothing like the player they had seen on video.
"They called Steve and said there was no way they would sign me but a good lad had come on for the last 20 minutes. They described him to Steve, who immediately clicked and put things right."
O'Brien's delight at landing such a headline-grabbing transfer with a lucrative contract estimated to be worth in the region of £3,000 per week was tempered somewhat by his subsequent failure to make the Irish squad for the World Under-20 championships in Nigeria.
Having departed the Riverside, O'Brien hadn't played any competitive football for months and the manager, Brian Kerr, felt his hand was forced. Even O'Brien's appearances in the zebra-striped jersey in the InterToto were overshadowed by internet geeks, embarrassingly, voting him Time magazine's man of the century.
Utilising the low-key European preliminaries to give O'Brien a sample of life with the fabled Bianconeri before moving him on, Ancelotti had the youngster rooming with the club captain, Antonio Conte, when billeted at Juventus' pre-season mountain retreat in Chatillon. Befitting somebody who, upon hearing the minutiae of his Juventus contract, told his agent: "If that is what you have arranged, then that is what you have arranged", O'Brien wasn't fazed by the presence of so many established greats. The night before he left for Switzerland, Edgar Davids took him out for dinner.
One Juventus insider says: "He had a very good attitude to the whole thing and the impression after his appearances in the Intertoto was that, technically, O'Brien is a very good young player. The manager, Mister Ancelotti, has said that O'Brien is skilful, a good investment for the future who needs to play more football before his talent can be properly assessed.
"Going to Crotone was a good move because the club is managed by a former Juve full-back, Antonello Cuccureddu, so there is a direct link there back to Turin. If he did well for Cuccureddu, Juve will know all about it."
That O'Brien didn't actually start many games for Crotone, the majority of his substitute appearances coming as a right-sided midfielder or front man, is regarded by some as an indictment of his lack of impact. In mitigation, Kutner points out that Crotone were top of the table when he arrived and the manager was unlikely to change a winning team to accommodate a new boy. This afternoon, Crotone entertain second-placed Ancona in a game that is an excuse for a party, but after the festivities, O'Brien heads north to Turin for a more sober appraisal of his first season in Italy.
"Ronnie's not good enough but I wish him well and hope he proves me wrong," said Bryan Robson of O'Brien's initial departure to the Stadio del Alpi. "If kids are good enough I like them. Nobody we have released has made it in the top flight and I don't think Ronnie will either." A year after the Middlesbrough manager's rather ungracious remarks, the burden of proof remains with the player

Man! I don't think Ronnie is very happy about doing this small club tour to gain enough experience to be a Juve player!!! I just hope he can reach Juve... Never seen him play, though.


FoRzA JuVe

fOrZa BiAnCoNeRi

Xtratime Allstar
9,820 Posts
i hope he'll play in juve next year
you know crotone is not a club he can play with more than one year.
but what i know he didn't play anything with boro at all.......
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