Yohan Cabaye was a very good player for Newcastle United.
Whilst some fans want to rewrite history due to the circumstances of his departure from St James Park, the truth is that in the Mike Ashley era the Frenchman is probably the best player we have seen at the club.
Not World Class…but arriving at NUFC in his prime (aged 25) we saw him at his best, the Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote midfield partnership arguably as good as anything else in the Premier League in 2011/12.
So popular was he, the Newcastle supporters repeatedly threatened a ‘Riot’ if Mike Ashley dared to sell the playmaker.
As it happened, Cabaye left for PSG in January 2014 and what had looked a promising season imploded. However, nothing explosive from the fans as they watched yet another player leave the club due to a lack of ambition from the owner.
Funnily enough, it has emerged that whilst Newcastle fans were threatening riots five or six years ago, some four and a half thousand miles away, another group of supporters were doing the same regarding a former Newcastle player.
The official Vancouver Whitecaps website has been doing a series of features on their former players who had played in World Cups.
Andy O’Brien was no Yohan Cabaye but he was a popular player for Newcastle, like many of our current team he was decent but not a superstar, however he always gave 100%.
Bought by Sir Bobby Robson for £2m from Bradford he did well for NUFC and is still immortalised in song due to the equaliser he scored in the 1-1 draw at Sunderland in April 2001. Andy O’Brien representing Newcastle at the 2002 World Cup with the Republic of Ireland.
As for Whitecaps fans, it turns out (see below) that they were singing about riots if the club dared to sell him. You can only assume that this was inspired by hearing the Yohan Cabaye version.
O’Brien arrived as a 33 year old in Vancouver in August 2012 and obviously did more than enough to impress the locals.
Staying for three seasons in the MLS, Andy O’Brien eventually exited in January 2015, a year after Cabaye had left Newcastle for PSG.
Vancouver Whitecaps official website:
Over the course of the history of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a number of players who have played for the club at one point or another have also represented their country at the FIFA World Cup. As we approach the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, we will feature players of years’ past who made it to soccer’s pinnacle event.
The native of Harrogate, England played for six different clubs during his 19-year professional career. He began with Bradford City in 1996, and played in the club’s two seasons in the English Premier League. He would then spend four years with Newcastle United, followed by Portsmouth FC, Bolton Wanderers, and Leeds United before joining the ‘Caps in 2012.
“Don’t sell O’Brien, Andy O’Brien, I just don’t think you understand. Because if you sell O’Brien, Andy O’Brien, you’re going to have a riot on your hands.”
O’Brien was a fan favourite during his three years in Vancouver. In total he made 50 regular season appearances for the Blue and White, starting 48 of those matches. He also made two playoff appearances for the ‘Caps, including the club’s first ever MLS playoff match in 2012.
Born and raised in England, O’Brien originally played for the English U-18 national team. However at the senior level he elected to represent the Republic of Ireland through his heritage, and played for Ireland at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. In total he made 26 appearances for the boys in green, and scored his lone international goal to give his side a 1-0 over Portugal in February of 2005.
FUN FACT: After retiring from playing, O’Brien has worked as a scout for English Premier League club Liverpool FC.