"It was a good shot to be fair" – Andy O'Brien

When Andrew James O'Brien, better known as Andy O'Brien, stepped onto the pitch at BC Place on Saturday night, it was start of the Whitecaps 40th season, and personally his 30th appearance for the club.

Although he's in his third season here in Vancouver, it's only been 587 days since he put pen to paper. We asked about his experiences since then.

"I think when I first came over, the idea of moving forty-five hundred miles from home seemed like quite a daunting thing, but I had the opportunity to come visit prior to signing."

How did he feel about the Rain City? We may call ourselves British Columbia, but as every expat knows, it's a long way from Tipperary.

Andy O'Brien clears the ball from danger as Peguy Luyindula looks on at BC Place on 8 March 2014.

"I fell in love with the place straight away, and I've enjoyed every minute of it."

During the off season, the Yorkshireman "went back to see my family, my brother, niece, nephew, sister-in-law, mum and dad, and my girlfriend." 

As many of us know, long distance relationships can be difficult at the best of times. So we asked might she be making the crossing at some point. "Yeah, she might do if the manager gives me a new contract."

"It's potentially something, but she's a psychologist, so unfortunately she doesn't automatically qualify to work here even though she has a doctorate, a Ph.D., and everything."

"But like I say, if the manager gives me another year, we'll talk about it.” 

English cuisine may not be the healthiest with sausage and mash, pork pie, Yorkshire pudding, Sunday roast, and of course fish and chips, so we wondered how he managed to come he came back looking so trim?

"I enjoyed my time back home." He said with a knowing laugh. "I had a little bit of a break, and then laid the foundations for getting ready for the season. First and foremost, I wanted to start the season. I worked hard to retain my place and keep my place. That's my objective.”

In a squad that is top and bottom heavy, with little in-between age-wise, what other responsibilities does he see himself performing?

"There is an expectancy with being a senior player that you help the younger lads, and none more so than in this team because we've got a lot of younger players. I enjoy working with them, working against them, and there's a good chemistry between us all and hopefully that will bode well for the future."

Andy O'Brien unconventionally blocks a shot at Thunderbird Stadium on 14 February 2014.

Last month, Andy was on the receiving end of one of the younger player's efforts.

"Yeah, that was Scooter's first day back and he introduced himself nicely to me. It was a good shot to be fair; it was probably one of the best in thirty-odd years."

We were curious if he has any plans for a hopefully good-spirited reprisal. He paused, smiled, and then offered, "Well, it's a long season so yeah, we'll watch this space."

But what of the future, what plans does he have for himself? "I've got private aspirations, but one thing at a time. I know it doesn't bode well for a good article because it's not controversial or anything, but I want to get as fit as I can to give myself a good opportunity this season."

Well said Andy. In today's world of sports clichés, it's refreshing to hear a response that is both honest and earnest.

As for the new manager, "I think every coach I've had has had a different philosophy. I'm enjoying it. It's not easy, but we'll continue to work."

If they continue to work like they did on Saturday against the Champions, this could be a very enjoyable season for Andy, and for us.