To mark St Patrick’s Day we have decided take a look at the Irishmen who have played for the O’s. Here we have compiled our top five Irish O’s:
Born in Paddington in 1956, Tony Grealish began his career with the O’s as a youth team player in 1972. He scored on his senior league debut against Nottingham Forest in November 1974 and he soon established himself as a favourite on the terraces due to his tireless performances in midfield. He was a key figure in the Orient side that made it to the semi-final of the FA Cup in 1977/78. During his five seasons at Brisbane Road, Grealish made almost 200 appearances for Orient scoring 10 goals.
In July 1979 Luton Town bought Grealish for £150,000. He went on to play for Brighton, captaining them to the FA Cup Final in 1983. He also played for West Bromwich Albion,Manchester City, Rotherham United and Walsall.
Grealish was eligible to represent the Republic of Ireland through his parents and he was capped at youth level before making his debut for the senior side against Norway in 1976 aged 19. He would play for Ireland for a decade winning 45 caps and scoring 8 goals. 17 of those appearances was as captain, while 7 of his appearances for the national side was as a Leyton Orient player.
Grealish sadly passed away almost a year ago aged 56 after a battle with cancer.
Terry Mancini began his career at Watford in 1959 and he spent the best part of six years at the club before moving to South Africa to play for Port Elizabeth City, whom he captained to the league title, a feat he would repeat with Leyton Orient.
In 1967 Mancini joined the O’s and he would captain the club at centre half for four years. During that 1969/70 season he lead the side to the the Third Divison title under manager Jimmy Bloomfield.
Mancini made 188 appearances in total for the O’s scoring 17 goals before joining QPR for £30,000 in October 1971. Born 1942 in Camden Town, he qualified to play for the Republic of Ireland through his father. In 1973 he made his international debut against Poland and he went on to win 4 more caps, scoring one goal.
In 1974 he signed for Arsenal for a fee in the region of £20,000. After 52 appearances for the Gunners, Mancini joined Aldershot and then ended his playing career in the NASL with the Los Angeles Aztecs.
David Mooney has been a key figure for the O’s this season as he is currently the club’s top scorer with 18 goals in 36 appearances this term.
The Dublin-born striker began his career in his native Ireland starting with Shamrock Rovers. He joined Longford Town in 2005 and he enjoyed a fantastic year with the club in 2007. He was the League of Ireland Premier Division top scorer ann helped Longford to the FAI Cup Final and won the FAI National League Player of the Year award. His impressive form earned him a move to Cork City, but he was soon brought to England by Reading.
After numerous loan spells, Mooney joined the O’s in July 2011. He had a slow start at his new club, with 8 goals in 42 games in his first season. Last season Mooney showed improvement with an incredible run of 10 goals in 12 games from November until January. Again he played in 42 games but he managed to grab 13 goals this time around. To date, Mooney has scored 39 goals in 120 appearances in an Orient shirt.
Mooney’s impressive form this term has raised questions on his possible inclusion in future Republic of Ireland squads, but currently the 29 year-old has only made two appearances for his country at Under 23 level.
Kevin Nugent began his playing career at Leyton Orient and he scored on his debut for the O’s in 1987 against Scarborough, His best goalscoring return in a campaign came in the 1991/92 season when he scored 16 goals in all competitions. During his first spell with Orient he scored 30 goals in total in 125 games over 5 years.
In March 1992 he joined Plymouth for £275,000. He went on to play for Bristol City and Cardiff City before returning to Brisbane Road almost 10 years after his departure. In this second spell the Edmonton-born striker scored five goals in 32 appearances for the O’s. In January 2003 he joined Swansea City.
In June 2007 he returned to Orient once again, this time as Youth Team manager as part of Martin Ling’s backroom staff. Following the departures of Ling and his assistant Dean Smith in January 2009, Nugent became caretaker manager. In his four games in charge Orient won once, lost once and claimed two draws. When Geraint Williams was named as new Orient manager in February 2009, Nugent became his assistant. Williams’ reign lasted until April 2010 but Nugent was retained as part of the backroom staff and again he took charge while the O’s searched for a new manager. This time Nugent managed just one match, a 2-1 defeat against Southampton. He resumed his role as assistant manager following Russell Slade’s appointment in April 2010.
He was capped at youth level on four occasions for the Republic Of Ireland.
Sean Thornton is still something of a cult hero at Brisbane Road. Born in Drogheda, Thornton’s football career began with Tranmere Rovers, making 13 appearances for the club during the 2001/02 season.
In July 2002 he signed for Sunderland in a controversial transfer. Following a loan spell with Blackpool, he made his Sunderland debut in an FA Cup tie against Bolton. He played in the Premier League during that 2002/03 season and his first goal for the Black Cats was a spectacular volley against Chelsea, but Sunderland eventually failed to survive in the top-flight. He spent two more seasons with the club.
In May 2005 he signed for Doncaster Rovers for £175,000 – a club record fee at the time. He was released by Donny at the end of the 2006/07 campaign.
Martin Ling snapped Thornton up in July 2007 and he immediately endeared himself to Orient fans by scoring a free-kick on his debut in a 1-2 win over Southend at Roots Hall on the opening day of the 2007/08 season. He scored two more goals in 34 games that year, but he was sent off twice.
At the start of the following season he was loaned out to Shrewsbury but he returned to make 34 appearances for the O’s. He scored a late winner against Russell Slade’s Brighton, in a 2-1 victory that sparked Orient’s survival.
2009/10 would prove to be his last season with the O’s, during which he scored seven goals in 34 games. He was released by Slade in May 2010.
In total Thornton scored 12 goals in 102 appearances in an Orient shirt. During his three seasons with the O’s the maverick midfielder showed that he had talent but ultimately he failed to reach his potential. He has since played for Aberystwyth Town, Conwy Borough FC and he recently signed for Bala Town.
The 30 year-old was capped for the Republic of Ireland from Under-16 level all the way up to the Under-21s. He was a part of the squads at the 2000 UEFA European Under-16 Football Championship and the 2002 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship. He also captained the Under 21s.
Other Irish O’s
Republic of Ireland:
Kwame Ampadu, Stephen Dawson, Mark Dempsey, Aaron Doran, Neale Fenn, Michael Liddle, Alan McCormack, Daryl McMahon, Leon McSweeney, JJ Melligan, Martin Rowlands, Frankie Sutherland, Simon Webb.
Wayne Carlisle, Joe Dolan, Johnny Gorman, Paddy Hasty, Russell Kelly, Brendan McElholm, Phil Mulryne, Ciaran Toner.
Who have we missed? What would your top five be? Feel free to leave a comment