"Easy decision"; Lee O'Connor speaks after leaving Celtic permanently

By Euan Davidson

January 25, 2022

Ireland international and former Manchester United youngster Lee O’Connor has made a permanent move to Tranmere Rovers from Celtic.

O’Connor, born in Waterford, seemed an exciting signing alongside Jeremie Frimpong in the summer of 2019. However, while Frimpong excelled, ex-United prospect Lee O’Connor took longer to adjust. He was subsequently loaned out to Tranmere Rovers, where he’s now signed permanently.

A fan favourite of Superwhites fans, O’Connor was involved in pre-season games for Celtic. However, the resurgent Anthony Ralston and the addition of Josip Juranovic further barred the path for O’Connor in Green and White.

Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Today, Tranmere Rovers announced he’d signed for the Birkenhead club until the summer of 2024. The fee has been undisclosed.

O’Connor said of the move [TRFC]: “I’m delighted.

“It was something I’ve wanted to do for a while as I’ve loved my time here so far.

“I’ve really felt at home since my first day. Not only am I enjoying it personally but I think I’m developing really well and I just want to continue that.  I feel like this is the best thing for my career and it was an easy decision. To play your best football you have to be happy and I’m happy.

“We’re on a good run now and it’s just about keeping it going, starting with a big game on Saturday.”

Manager Micky Mellon added: “It’s really important that we have our own players when possible and everyone understands that. We’re really appreciative of our loan players but we’d always like to have players of Lee’s quality as our own player.”

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Probably the right move for Celtic, Lee O’Connor and definitely Tranmere Rovers

It’s a shame this signing didn’t work out for Celtic, because on paper, Lee O’Connor was a sensible signing.

With Lustig away, finding our next great right-back was going to be a conundrum. Jeremie Frimpong, crucially, impressed Neil Lennon to the point of getting first-team minutes. When Moritz Bauer was injured, the Dutchman took his opportunity and ran with it.

O’Connor couldn’t. And you can talk about sliding doors moments in football, perhaps the divergent paths of Frimpong and O’Connor tell a story.

Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

For the Irishman though, this is an important move. There wasn’t a realistic path for him at Celtic, and although there’s definitely a player there, his future just isn’t with us. Tranmere Rovers supporters have been impressed with his tenacity, versatility and ability to improve a defence. That’s vital, as are the minutes he’s getting in the North West of England.

Is this a move Celtic should regret, though? Not a chance. It made utter sense. If you can sign a guy who’s young, on the cusp of an international call-up, and has been trained at a top Academy, it makes sense to pull the trigger. Ultimately, it came down to chances, and O’Connor just didn’t get any at Celtic.

We wish him all the best, as a player who’ll surely and steadily rise up the English football pyramid in time.

Read more: Liam Shaw identifies the Celtic teammate who urged him to move to Motherwell