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Paudie O’Connor: From Limerick to Bradford

Current Bradford City defender Paudie O’Connor has now made nearly 200 career appearances and has previously had spells at the likes of Limerick, Leeds United, and a loan spell at Blackpool.

The 24-year-old has always plyed his trade as a centre-back and has found the back of the net on 14 occasions to this point.  

He has played every game for the Bantams in Sky Bet League Two so far this season.

The Irishman’s professional footballing career began back in 2015 so let’s take a look at his story so far.

Starting out at Limerick

O’Connor grew up in Limerick, Ireland and joined up with their academy back in 2014 before making his professional footballing debut as a 17-year-old in March 2015.

He scored his first senior career goal against Cork City in August 2015 and won the League of Ireland First Division title in the 2015/16 campaign.

The defender enjoyed his time playing in Ireland and believes it has turned out to be beneficial for his career so far.

He said: “It is my hometown club.

“I started there when I was 16 and I have great memories.

“I had a couple of good years there and it has been grounding for my career so far.

“I played a lot of games at a young age at first team level which always helps and helped for when I came over to England as it was not as much of a step up as others have had to face.

“I have very fond memories of playing in Ireland in general.”

Moving to England and time at Leeds United

O’Connor then went on to join Leeds United in 2017 and captained the under-23s squad during the 2017/18 season.

He was also nominated for the club’s Young Player of the Year award at the end of that campaign.

The centre-back was happy with how his first spell went in West Yorkshire.

He added: “Coming over at 19, it was my first time moving away from home so it was a big change but I enjoyed it.

“I originally went into the under-23s and was then in between the first team and the 23s in my time there.

“I spent some time out on loan as well but I thoroughly enjoyed working with the coaches there and getting better technically. I have very good memories.”

Loan spell at Blackpool

The defender spent the first-half of the 2018/19 campaign on loan Blackpool in order to get regular first team football.

O’Connor made 17 appearances in all competitions for the Tangerines and scored two goals including one away to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup.

He insisted he the loan move was important as it allowed him to gain first team football for the first time in England.

He continued: “I used the loan market back at that stage, I was a young lad and it was just to experience first team football over here.

“I dropped down a division, went to Blackpool, and played some games.

“Getting that first experience of first team football in England was important to me and led to me turning up at Valley Parade shortly after.

“I enjoyed my time and that led to making it permanent.”

Joining Bradford City

O’Connor originally joined the Bradford on loan in the second-half of the 2018/19 campaign and then joined permanently – signing a three-year deal at the end of the season.

At the end of the 2020/21 campaign, O’Connor won four awards including the Bantams’ Player of the Year.

The Irishman is enjoying his time at the club so far and has not given up hope of getting promoted at the end of the season.

He stated: “My time here has been massively enjoyable.

“Playing at Valley Parade in front of supporters who always get behind us.

“I came here nearly three years ago now to try and get this club back out of the league and that is still the aim between now and the end of the season.

“He (Derek Adams) has bought a big work ethic to the group first and foremost.

“He is good to work under. He demands hard work from the boys and he has that.

“Hopefully, between now and May, we can make it a memorable season.” 

There is no doubt that the Irish defender has had a solid career so far and still has many promising years ahead of him.

What do you think?