Portsmouth's ex-Millwall striker reveals why he had to end Sunderland misery

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Aiden O’Brien admitted he had to end his Sunderland pain after becoming mentally drained by being left in the cold.

Pompey’s new recruit told how he felt he needed to find a fresh start away from the Stadium of Light, as he became despondent over his lack of minutes.

But the Republic of Ireland international believes he can rediscover his enjoyment for football at Fratton Park.

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O’Brien opened his Blues goal account with his first touch on home soil, in Saturday’s 4-0 romp over Doncaster Rovers.

It’s a far cry from a difficult season on Wearside, with the 28-year-old out of favour under former boss Lee Johnson.

O’Brien revealed how Johnson couldn’t give him a legitimate reason for not being played, leading to the ex-Millwall man becoming disillusioned with his situation.

He said: ‘I felt like there were times at Sunderland when I did well, and I thought I would’ve been credited with a few runs and starts in games.

‘It didn’t happen and it kept going back and forth.

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Aiden O'BrienAiden O'Brien
Aiden O'Brien

‘I wasn’t starting, so why? He (Johnson) couldn’t give me a reason.

‘It came to a stage when I was quite fed up.

‘It took a lot out of me mentally, it was draining.

‘So I just needed a fresh start and what better start than what I’ve had here so far.

‘I can’t wait to keep it going.’

Johnson’s Sunderland tenure came to an end last month, after an embarrassing 6-0 thrashing at Bolton.

That made it one win in six - against Pompey - for the Black Cats, with two defeats and a draw ensuing to leave them out of the automatic promotion picture.

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Former Norwich boss Alex Neil was last week appointed as Johnson’s successor, and O’Brien believes his old club will soon be moving in the right direction.

But the Londoner’s focus is firmly on bringing success to a club he immediately feels comfortable at.

He added: ‘Sunderland have got a new manager now. He would’ve probably played me!

‘That’s the thing, but I think they will be alright. They should be alright.

‘They are a big enough club to get over it.

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‘But I’m here now and as soon as I’m playing my mind is free.

‘My mind is most free when I’m playing on that pitch.

‘I just literally black out everything else and focus on doing a job for my team and scoring goals.

‘That’s what I’ve done since I’ve started and managers I’ve played under all say the same thing.

‘I’m a hard-working team player who mixes in with goals. That’s what I want to do here.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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