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O'Brien: 'This brings great sadness and it is hard for me to take in'

The Ireland striker is leaving Millwall after playing 226 games for a club that he joined at the age of 15.

Aiden O'Brien pictured after his goalscoring debut for the Republic of Ireland against Poland in September 2018.
Aiden O'Brien pictured after his goalscoring debut for the Republic of Ireland against Poland in September 2018.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

AIDEN O’BRIEN HAS commented on his imminent departure from Millwall, admitting it’s with “great sadness” that he bids farewell to the Championship club.

Manager Gary Rowett revealed that O’Brien’s contract – which expires after tomorrow night’s season finale with Huddersfield Town – won’t be extended.

For the Republic of Ireland international, it brings to an end an association with a club that he joined at the age of 15.

The London-born striker, who’s currently sidelined with an injury, scored 44 times in 226 appearances for Millwall. He also played a key role in their promotion to the Championship via the League One play-offs in 2017.

However, the 26-year-old will now have to pursue options elsewhere, having been restricted to 11 Championship appearances under Rowett since the former Stoke City manager took charge at The Den last October.

“This brings great sadness and it is hard for me to take in, especially since I started here at 15,” O’Brien said in a statement posted on social media.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time, with such a supportive fan base and excellent community right from the beginning. The fans and The Den have been the life of my career, and we have celebrated many times, particularly the club’s promotion.

“I have been able to make the most of so many opportunities and meet some amazing people along the way. The club and the staff have been by my side throughout, and seen me at both my highs and lows.

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“I cannot thank you enough for the experience over these past 12 years, they have meant so much to me as a player. I hope one day our paths cross again. Once a Lion, always a Lion. I will always love my Millwall family. Thank you all.”

Capped five times by Ireland, O’Brien made a goalscoring senior international debut in a 1-1 draw away to Poland in a friendly in September 2018.

Despite releasing O’Brien, Gary Rowett paid tribute to him yesterday, telling the South London Press: “I have to say Aiden’s attitude has been brilliant this season and it was brilliant after I told him. He has to be massively commended for his professionalism.”

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