‘You come home and you’re a dad, you’re a husband’: Brandon O’Neill speaks of lessons of fatherhood

-

A name familiar to the A-League Men’s, and Perth Glory fans in particular, is Brandon O’Neill.

Perhaps known as Glory’s captain, for his success with Sydney FC, or his earlier Perth days, the midfielder has taken on another new role off the pitch – fatherhood.

O’Neill kicked off his ALM career with Glory back in the 2011/12 season and made his way to Sydney FC in the 2015/16 season to make a name for himself, all while collecting trophies, including scoring against his hometown club to win the premiership with Sydney in 2019.

Embed from Getty Images

But O’Neill has found his way back to Perth, sporting purple once again with some added extras – the captain’s armband and a daughter in tow.

When asked by head coach Richard Garcia if he would like to take on the role of captain, following the departure of O’Neill’s predecessor Diego Castro, he had only one request; the ability to be himself.

One key role of that has been making sure his players have the security to only think about one thing, being successful on the pitch.

“It’s all new for me, I’m still learning how to lead successfully,” he said.

“In order to create a successful environment, wherever I’ve been or whatever I’ve done, the common theme is you’ve got to be a good person first and foremost. And secondly, you’ve got to be able to put values and identities of the team above everything else.”

Embed from Getty Images

He believes that to get the best out of your teammates, you have to understand who they are on and off the field.

O’Neill implemented it into his leadership role after he was reminded by his daughter the role of a player’s life off the pitch, and it created an environment where players are understood beyond the pitch.

“You need to understand their families, you need to understand what makes them tick. That’s something I’ve enjoyed this season, trying to get the best out of people away from football,” he said.

“I try to be myself; I try to understand in each situation what needs to be done, whether that’s pulling someone aside and communicating in a different language or on a personal level. I know a lot of leadership qualities are based around being very loud, very active, and I don’t really fit into that role.

“I’m more so the action-based approach; if people need to confide in me, I’ll always be there to chat about anything but in terms of leading I like to let my words do the talking.”

Embed from Getty Images

 

O’Neill’s approach to captaincy has lifted spirits, by providing his team with extra support, especially while they have been away from loved ones and friends back in Perth.

During his time in the ALM, and his brief stint playing overseas however, O’Neill worried a lot and his advice to himself now would be “not to worry”.

And his uses that same advice for his other new role, after becoming a father to his nine-week-old daughter.

“I’m prone to worrying about every little detail and getting caught up in everything. I love being able to have a schedule and stick to routine to get the best out of myself, but there does come a time where worrying can get the better of you,” he said.

“I think that’s been the most beautiful thing about having a daughter and being able to concentrate on things outside of the game, because as long as you prepare as best you can – whether you win, lose, or draw – you give your best performance and you come home and you’re a dad, you’re a husband.

Embed from Getty Images

“Football is amazing and it’s given me a lot of amazing experiences but I don’t need to worry about a lot of the things that I do, because when you come home and look around, everything is pretty good.”

Glory adopted Tasmania as home for a further two games, and eagerly await their return to Perth following Western Australia’s border lift set for March 3.

There has been one silver-lining for the 27-year-old, being able to have his family – his wife Nicole and their daughter – on the road with him.

“They’re living the life of a professional athlete here in Tasmania and that’s never happened before in my career and I don’t think it’s happened anywhere, nor do I think it’ll ever happen again,” he said.

“We get to come home and then we get eight to ten games at our home ground, in front of our home fans, but more importantly we’re going to have routine. We’re going to have a program put in place where we can actually plan for the next eight to ten weeks, rather than the next eight to ten minutes so that’s going to be massive.”

“We’re still three or four games behind a lot of teams and if we win those games, especially at home, then we’re only a couple of points off the top.

“Although it’s been extremely tough, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Embed from Getty Images

Nothing beats playing at home and O’Neill said he was ready to experience the feeling of captaining his side in front of a home crowd again.

“Being able to lead the boys out for my hometown club was an unreal experience, especially with everyone there who is really close to me,” he said.

“I think a lot of people will get around us knowing that we’re coming home.”

After a long three months away, Glory are expected to play their first true-home game of the year next Sunday, on March 6, against Adelaide United.

Feature Image credit: Darren Speedie

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Ash Ramos
Ash Ramos
Journalism student at Curtin University covering Perth Glory for the 2021/22 A-leagues season. Siuuu

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required