Danny O’Brien has just come to the end of his second season in Finland. This season he played for top flight side SJK and also appeared for their under-23 side in the third tier. He scored 11 goals in 13 games for the U23s as well as making nine appearances for the first team.
I interviewed the former Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic man earlier in the season (which you can see here) but now the campaign is over, let’s check in with Danny to hear his highlights from this season and find out what he’s up to next.
English Players Abroad: What was your favourite moment of the season just gone?
Danny O’Brien: My favourite moment from this season was my league debut against KuPs (gameweek 6). I went to the club with a view to do well in the under-23 team and to then progress into the first team so to be able to do that so early on this season was really good.
EPA: What was your favourite goal your scored this season?
DO’B: My favourite goal has to be in the first game of the season (4-2 win over TP-47), were I lobbed the goalkeeper with my left foot swinger from about 40 yards out. I was told by the coach to never attempt that again after the game, as we had a overload of four versus two and should have passed!
EPA: What was the best stadium you played at this season?
DO’B: Our home stadium (SJK’s OmaSP Stadion), the best stadium in Finland and I have great memories there. To be able to train on it every day was great also, I haven’t been able to play or train in such a good environment in England so that was great.
EPA: You finished as the fourth top scorer in Kakkonen Group C even though you only played 13 games, how pleased were you with this?
DO’B: Yes, pleased, but for me, if I’m training and playing with players who are at SJK playing in the top flight every day, I should be doing that. For me that shows I’ve pushed on from last season when I was playing for Kraft and know I belong at a higher level. That’s good to know and drives me on to keep playing well.
EPA: Were you happy with the amount of game time your had in the first team? Was it more or less than you expected?
DO’B: No, I wasn’t happy, simply because that’s my mentality. I got more games than anyone expected when I signed for the under-23 team at the start of the season but once I was there and knew I was good enough to be at that level, I wanted more. I feel that’s how you should be as a footballer, always wanting more, otherwise, what’s the point in playing?
EPA: If there was anything you could change from the season just gone, what would it be?
DO’B: I wouldn’t change anything about the club, or my season, but if I had to chose something it would be that the team finished higher this season in the league. There was no way that team with the calibre of players should have had to go to the last game of the season [to avoid relegation] because the standard of players at SJK is far higher than the league table suggested.
EPA: What was the biggest thing you learned from your experience of the Finnish top flight this season?
DO’B: Football changes very quickly, and there’s so many highs and lows you have to deal with on a daily basis but it’s great, and I loved it. People who know me will know I may not have always made out like I did [loving it] but I was.
EPA: What are your plans for next season now that your time with SJK has come to an end?
DO’B: Well right now, I’ve just got home. I haven’t been able to spend any proper time at home for the last 12 months and it’s been a long year, enjoyable, but long. At the moment I am assessing all options but I’m looking to stay in Finland as I feel I have a lot of unfinished business there. I’m looking forward to going back in December, whereever that may be.
I’d also like to place on record my thanks to SJK for giving me the opportunity this season.
You can follow Danny’s progress on Twitter @DannyOBrien_.