Ex-Newcastle and Leeds man: Europe can learn a lot from MLS

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Former Republic of Ireland international Andy O'Brien is eager to return to the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2015, and says there's a lot European football can learn from the MLS model.

Having enjoyed three successful seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps, Andy O’Brien would like nothing more than to return to the MLS club in 2015.

Arriving in the Pacific Northwest from Leeds United in August 2012, the Irishman was an essential component of the Vancouver defence which recorded 13 clean sheets this term, forming an exceptional centre-back partnership with towering Costa Rican Kendall Waston during the run to the post-season.

Their hopes of a first-ever MLS Cup might have ended at the first hurdle, with a 2-1 defeat to FC Dallas in the Western Conference’s knockout-round match, but Carl Robinson’s side have a number of promising pieces in place for a second crack at the whip in 2015.

Now out of contract, O’Brien isn’t 100% certain whether he’ll be back at the club next season, but the former Premier League stalwart remains hopeful of working out a new deal.

“I've yet to speak with the club with regard to my contract situation,” he told MLSSoccer.com. “It’s not all about money. I think it’s about being wanted, and I get as much buzz [from that] as I do for the dollars.

“I’ve been very blessed to have had the career that I’ve had. At this stage of my career, it’s not necessarily about the money. It’s about being made to feel welcome, and certainly since day one that I’ve been here with the supporters, with the boys, with the manager, I’ve felt that. It remains to be seen what happens.”

Aged 35, O’Brien has no plans to retire at this point and, wherever the future takes him, he holds no regrets about making the move across the Atlantic, insisting that European football can learn a great deal from the North American model.

"Physically I feel great, and mentally I feel great. I think by virtue of the fact that I’m looking forward to next year speaks volumes to how I feel,” he said.

"Coming over here, it was a big step because it was 5,000 miles away from home, in a place I'd never been,” he continued. "But one thing I would say is that the European model can learn a lot in terms of the North American model. The supporters can learn a lot in terms of the word support. I think it's a good environment to be part of.”

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