Mark O’Brien is a former professional footballer.

He left home in Ireland to join Derby County in his teens and made his first team debut at just 16-years-old.

Shortly after, a routine heart scan revealed a leaking aortic valve.

Surgery was required and Mark didn’t know if his career would come to and end from one season to the next.

He also had spells at Motherwell, Luton Town and Southport, before joining Newport County.

The club were bottom of the Football League and 11 points from safety when he arrived…

But he secured the club’s survival with his first professional goal – a last minute winner against Notts County – on the final day of the 2016/17 season.

O’Brien retired from playing at the age of 27, after requiring further open heart surgery in 2020.

In this episode, he speaks openly about the mental health issues he battled against after his playing days ended…

Enjoy the Video Version of Episode 33:


“If I’m able to share my troubles with other people and people can relate to me and it helps them, then that’s my new purpose in life” – Mark O’Brien.

Mark O’Brien Reveals:

  • His rapid progress as a teenager at Derby County which saw him appear for the first team at the age of just 16… and how his father knew about his debut before he did!
  • How his heart was revealed to be three times the size it should be… with the threat of death within months if he didn’t get open heart surgery!
  • Dealing with two serious injuries shortly after recovering from heart surgery… and how he was determined not to let anything prevent him from having a professional career in football!
  • Not being given the chance to prove himself at Luton Town and being frozen out of the first team… which lead to a move to rock-bottom League Two side Newport County!
  • Scoring a last minute winner for Newport County, his first professional goal, which spared the club relegation from the Football League… and saved many jobs in the city as a result!
  • How the realisation of retiring from professional football at just 27 years old affected his mental health… and how he overcame depression, anxiety and PTSD!
  • His new venture as a keynote speaker… where he shares his experiences of resilience and adversity!

Resources From Mark O’Brien:

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn:’brien-3167a4229/

Follow Mark on Twitter:

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Music by Peyruis :