Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
O'Brien's footballing career began very promisingly, when at the age of 18 he signed a contract with Middlesbrough F.C. of the English Premier League. Although he played little at Middlesbrough, he had great success with Irish national team Youth sides during the period, winning the European Championship as a U-18 alongside players like Damien Duff and Robbie Keane. After two years with Middlesborough, O'Brien was sold to Juventus of Serie A, and signed a five-year contract with the club. However, Ronnie had trouble getting playing time on such a talented side, and was loaned out to Lugano of Switzerland, Dundee United of Scotland, and Crotone and Lecce of lower Italian divisions. After several years of disappointment, O'Brien was released from his contract with Juventus in 2002.
O'Brien, in search of consistent playing time, made the unconventional decision to move America to join the Dallas Burn. O'Brien made an immediate impact, scoring on his debut for the club in a U.S. Open Cup match. He finished the 2002 season with two goals and two assists in 11 games, but had proven himself one of the more dynamic players on the Burn team. O'Brien entered the 2003 season with great expectations, but these were cut short early in the season. In the Burn's third game of the season, a tackle from D.C. United's Dema Kovalenko broke O'Brien's tibia, effectively ending his season. O'Brien returned to the team in 2004, and was one of the team's offensive leaders - he started 29 games, registering two goals and ten assists, was named to the MLS Best XI, and helped revitalize a Burn team that had recorded one of the league's worst records ever in the previous season.
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