‘I just needed to get out’ - Portsmouth striker Aiden O'Brien lifts lid on ‘abysmal’ Sunderland spell and explains how ex-Lincoln and Huddersfield boss Danny Cowley has revitalised his career

Pompey striker Aiden O’Brien has revealed he felt like he was ‘rotting away’ at Sunderland before his January transfer to Fratton Park.

By Sam Cox
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 4:55 am
Aiden O'Brien has scored four goals in 10 Pompey appearances since his Sunderland switch.   Picture: Philip Bryan
Aiden O'Brien has scored four goals in 10 Pompey appearances since his Sunderland switch. Picture: Philip Bryan

The 28-year-old spent 16-months in the north east, before becoming Danny Cowley’s fifth and final signing three-months-ago.

Prior to his move to the Blues, his anonymity under ex-Stadium of Light chief Lee Johnson had continued to increase, as he made only seven league starts this term for his former employers.

Despite his bit-part role, he still found himself on the scoresheet when the opportunity arose by netting six times this campaign for the 2014 League Cup finalists – including a hat-trick against Championship Blackpool.

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However, this wasn’t enough to see him write his name in the starting line-up, as he was consistently overlooked and demoted to the bench.

This led to his departure from the club, and since, he’s hit the ground running by netting four goals in 10 league appearances.in royal blue – his latest coming in last night’s draw with Bolton.

As a result, the former Millwall man is grateful for his fresh start under the Fratton chief.

He told The News: (The difference is) I’m playing. I’m actually playing and I’m on the pitch. There were times at Sunderland where I would score a hat-trick and in the next game, I would be on the bench.

‘I would then be on the bench the next three games. My time at Sunderland was absolutely abysmal, I didn’t enjoy it at all.

‘It started well, and it just ended so badly. I just needed to get out of there because I was kind of rotting away. The manager here knows that, and he took me on, which I’m thankful for.’

In total, the Islington-born attacker has played for eight clubs stretching from Devon to the Wearside.

After coming through the Lions’ youth ranks, he spent 10 years at the Den – among a number of loan moves.

Now, the Republic of Ireland international is looking for stability in his life – and he’s hoping it can be at Pompey.

He added: ‘We’re building a good relationship together. So hopefully, as I’ve said, we can extend that but nothing’s been said at the moment.

‘Everyone likes a bit of stability in their life, so we’ll see what happens. Sometimes, even in life you just want someone to give you a backing and kind of say “yeah, you’re my guy and I want you”.

‘That hasn’t happened to me for a while, being at Sunderland with it not working out. I’ve come here for a fresh start, while taking a risk by coming on a three-month contract.

‘I’ve backed myself and I feel like I’ve paid back the club a little bit with a few goals and a couple of performances.’

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