It seems today's news of loan signing Diego Rodriguez comes with a catch: Andy O'Brien is moving on. After multiple sources revealed that contract talks had fallen through, the club tweeted a telling picture of the veteran centre-back at 3:52 pm. Thanks @OB_40… #VWFCpic.twitter.com/YJ726PEklc
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) January 14, 2015
O'Brien will be genuinely missed by fans and teammates alike. He was a fantastic role model and a stalwart defender. Though he would've likely retired after the 2015 season, there were hopes that he might have gone on to be a part of the Whitecaps’ coaching staff or the academy system. It now seems he will be returning to Europe.
In his three years with Vancouver, O’Brien established himself as a rock solid defender and a humble personality. He was an advocate for mental health awareness and helped bring out the best in other players. This year, after Jay Demerit retired mid-season, O’Brien picked up the slack and quickly formed an effective partnership with Kendall Waston. By the end of the season he had fans and his teammates chanting his name.
It’s easy to speak about his absence in simple terms, justifying the loss as a part of Carl Robinson’s "out with the old, in with the new" mentality. However, Andy O’Brien was more than just a solid center-back, he was a leader. He wasn't the loud, inspiring, captain-of-the-team like Jay Demerit, instead, he led by example. He worked hard, and in doing so motivated others to do the same. It will be difficult to tell whether the ‘Caps defence will be as strong without him, but the locker room will undoubtedly feel the change.
The 86Forever crew wish him all the best in the rest of his career and retirement.