Coaches' Insight | U17 Head Coach Colin O'Brien

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Coaches' Insight | U17 Head Coach Colin O'Brien

Republic of Ireland U17 Head Coach Colin O'Brien gives his insight into the game. O'Brien discusses the need for passion in the job, inspiration from former Ireland coach Noel O'Reilly and his wish to have coached Diego Maradona.
28th Apr 2020

Name: Colin O’Brien

Role: Republic of Ireland Under-17 Head Coach

Began current role: 2016

Coaching history
FAI Development Officer
Emerging Talent Programme Coach
Republic of Ireland U15s Assistant Coach
Republic of Ireland U15s Head Coach
Republic of Ireland U17s Coach

What is the one key attribute you need as a coach?
You have to be passionate about what you do. You have to want to do the job you do. If you bring pride into everything you can do in the role it rubs off on the people around you, including the staff and players.

What is your favourite thing about the job?
It would be working with the players on the pitch. You’re out there putting your plan in place regarding what you’re looking to be executed on match day. You’re involving the players and with that comes the enthusiasm between the players and coaches. Then it all builds to the day of the game which is always an exciting time.

Any pre-match rituals?
I wouldn’t have a ritual but I would always try to be consistent with the players on match day. I would be consistent with the pre-match meeting, pre-match meals and the roles of the staff and have a common thread throughout the day.

What one message would you give to a player to keep with them throughout their career? 
Be prepared and take individual responsibility. There’s so much done for players now - which has its benefits – but it’s important players stay ready. Whether it’s a chance to get into the team, a chance to progress or get a new contract they have to be ready for that next challenge.

Which coach/manager – from any sport – have you taken your greatest inspiration from?
I would say Noel O’Reilly, particularly in my early years in the FAI. Noel was someone I could connect with. It didn’t matter what level you were coaching at he had a very good way of working with people. I had a very good opportunity to work with him on certain programmes for a number of years and I learned a lot. He was a great inspiration for me.

Favourite match you coached and why?
Coaching in the European Under-17s Championship Finals has been a brilliant experience but some of the matches in the Elite Phase to get to the finals have been just a joy.
I would say the 1-0 win over Slovakia in 2017 and the 2-0 win against Georgia in 2018 to qualify for the finals provided an amazing sense of achievement among the players and staff. It’s something no-one can take away from you.

What team or match from any era do you wish you could have coached?
It would be the 1986 World Cup Final between Argentina and West Germany. It was the first World Cup I have a good memory of and of course you had Diego Maradona on the world stage. It was a time you didn’t see much football on television then you have this wizard in Maradona doing amazing things. 

I just loved everything about the game, Argentina were two up then West Germany pull it back to 2-2 then it’s a late winner for Argentina from Jorge Burruchaga. So much from that game and that tournament left an impression on me.