From Inchicore to Italy - Irish soccer legend Anne O'Brien on Off The Ball

One of Ireland's greatest soccer players Anne O'Brien talks to Off The Ball about a career

BY Raf Diallo 20:39 Wednesday 20 August 2014, 20:39 20 Aug 2014

It's a sad fact, but you have probably never heard of Anne O'Brien.

Yet her achievements should have made her a household name.

Among the most decorated Irish soccer players of all time, the 58-year-old won three Italian league titles and six French ones during a career that stretched from the late-60s to the early 90s.

However, due to logistics, the Dubliner was barely able to represent Ireland.

Now 58 and based in Italy, O'Brien joined Off The Ball on the line to talk about a career which started in Dublin and deserves far more recognition.

From a footballing family - John Giles is a relation - the Inchicore native never expected to turn professional.

But her chance came at 17 when she was part of a Dublin selection that took on French side Stade Reims who had come to Ireland for a tour.

Listen to the full interview via the podcast

"After that match, they asked permission to my club if they could bring me around Ireland with them to play the other matches," O'Brien recalled. She would later play a match for Ireland against France in PSG's current ground Parc de Princes not long after and although Ireland lost heavily, O'Brien won the Player of the Match award.

One of the biggest clubs in women's football at the time, Reims signed her in 1973 and O'Brien won three French titles in a row between '73 and 1975.

O'Brien spoke about how she adapted to life in France, which preceded her move to Italy where she played for Rome side Lazio and other clubs including Napoli and Reggiana, winning a large haul of silverware until her retirement in 1994.

Despite that club success in one of the world's leading leagues at that time, her international career did not match up due to logistics.

"First of all I was never brought home to play for the national team. I was never looked for. The only time I went home was in 1990. When I was at home I played for the national team because I got onto the national team when I was young. I was 15. I played about four matches with the Irish team. Then when I went away, I never got the chance to play for Ireland anymore," said O'Brien, who also worked as a coach in the Italian Football Federation and also gave her take on how women's football can be improved in Ireland.

Listen to the full interview via the podcast.

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