If there was an award for the A-League’s best bloke, Sydney FC’s Brandon O’Neill would be right up there.
Of course there is no such thing, but a player’s demeanour and off-field qualities are never lost on the fans.
O’Neill declined interest from other clubs – thought to be in the English Championship – to renew his contract with Sky Blues.
Now settled in Sydney and happily married, O’Neill inked a two-year deal to keep him Harbourside until 2021.
O’Neill revealed Sydney worked hard to facilitate a move abroad, and because of that he decided to repay them through loyalty.
“There was interest in the last transfer window gone by and previously, but there was no defining factor for me to jump at something,” he said at a media conference.
“Sydney FC wanted to do everything in their power to help that become reality for me and that was a huge factor in me and my wife sitting down and thinking about things.
“I love this football club. This is me and my wife’s home now.
“I’d love to be able to say one day that I’m playing for Sydney FC and being in a national team.
“It’d be a very proud moment to do that here because coming from Perth, it was such an unknown and the last three or four years have just been the time of my life.
“It would have been wrong of me to not talk to Sydney FC about the possibility of staying here because of what we’ve been through and the loyalty I have to this club.”
By the end of his new deal, O’Neill will have spent six years in sky blue having moved their from Perth Glory in 2015.
He entrenched himself as a regular fixture of Graham Arnold’s midfield alongside Josh Brillante, and that has since carried over under Steve Corica.
A centre point of Sydney’s success since arriving, O’Neill has been rewarded with two A-League premierships, a championship and an FFA Cup.
In his 92 games, O’Neill has forged a strong relationship with the club’s fans, and their support is something that is never lost on the two-time Olyroo.
“I thoroughly enjoy waking up in the morning and going to training, having my morning coffee then going in and training my heart out,” O’Neill added.
“Home games here are just brilliant. I’m genuinely happy going to games, going to training.
“I know after the games, after we win games and after we do our little celebration, I am genuinely overwhelmed with the support you receive from the sidelines.
“That’s why I always make it my mission after a game – win, lose or draw – you go over and thank the people that watch you.
“That’s huge for me because people give up their time, their money, their weekends to come out and support lads that just kick a football around.
“It’s a big thing, it’s a huge thing in my mind, anyway, to be able to give back and say ‘thank you for watching us’.”
O’Neill is Sydney’s second re-signing in a matter of days, following on from the tying down of right-back Rhyan Grant on a three-year deal.
The Sky Blues can overtake Melbourne Victory on the table – at least momentarily – with a win over Brisbane Roar on Friday night.