Tuesday, June 21, 2011

From Soccer To Golf - Ronnie O'Brien

I have to confess that one of my favorite players to interview when I started covering soccer in 2004 was Ronnie O'Brien. He was with Dallas at the time, and besides being outspoken, the accent of his native Ireland was simply impressive. It was just fun to hear it, even if sometimes I couldn't understand him, especially when he'd be upset at an officiating decision.

Despite some impressive years in MLS, though, O'Brien dropped quickly out of favor after leaving Dallas, partly due to a knee injury. He refused a pay cut on his contract with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2008, and that was it for his career in the league. He's been coaching FC Dallas youth teams, but now, apparently O'Brien is moving in another direction entirely, making use of what was his hobby during his playing days.

The Old American Golf Club announced today that Ronnie O’Brien, a former Major League Soccer All-Star, has been named assistant golf professional.
O’Brien, a native of Ireland, transitioned to a career in golf after 12 years of professional soccer in Europe and the U.S. He spent five seasons with FC Dallas where he was selected to multiple All-Star teams. O’Brien also played for Toronto FC and the San Jose Earthquakes before retiring in 2008. “When I was playing soccer, I spent a lot of my downtime on the golf course with teammates,” says O’Brien. “I fell in love with the game and making it a career felt like a natural progression once my soccer days were over.” As assistant golf professional, O’Brien will help with instructional programs and day-to-day course operations. “To be able to play soccer professionally and then switch to golf so seamlessly is truly remarkable,” says Jeff Kindred, PGA General Manager. “His experience as a world-class athlete and golf acumen will further our goal of establishing The Old American as the best place to play in Texas.”

Quite a few soccer players are good on the links - if you're ever matched up with them in charity games, they're usually decent partners. Maybe O'Brien is a pioneer for a path others will follow.

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