George O’Brien Sr (1952-2019)
Bermuda sport is mourning the death of another former stalwart. George O’Brien Sr, the former Boulevard goalkeeper, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 66 after a bout with illness.
Born and raised in Arima, Trinidad, O’Brien moved to Bermuda in the early 1980s and joined top-flight side Boulevard, where he earned plaudits for his outstanding prowess as a goalkeeper.
“When we picked George up, I was like ‘wow, yeah’ ... he built your confidence even more so,” Eric Woods, the former Boulevard defender, said.
“Physically, George was a giant and he commanded the area. You felt comfortable and safe because you’ve got this big giant of man between the sticks.
“He wasn’t afraid to call you off a ball. He’d say ‘I got it’ and come out and grab, clear it or whatever had to be done. I’m sure the team on a whole felt confident with him in the sticks.
“He was fearless and I think he even intimidated some of the opposition with his size alone.”
Wayne Richardson, the former Boulevard centre back, said his late team-mate possessed great anticipation, which gave him the early jump on the opposition.
“He read the game and positioned himself before things even came about,” he said. “He shined on many occasions.
“He was a big, physical player and very vocal on the field. In our time playing together, we were meant to be. It was just automatic: we knew and understood each other.
“George was a great goalkeeper and a great person at that.
“He is a big loss to Boulevard and Bermuda football as a whole. Love and condolences to his family and loved ones.”
During his playing days, O’Brien earned the nickname “Banks” after England’s 1966 World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks.
“He was our Banks,” Cyril “Dago” Steede, the former Boulevard midfielder said. “George was a good team-mate who really gave his all when he played and always wanted the same from everybody else. He led by example. He is definitely going to be a big miss because he was just a good guy, period.”
After severing ties with Boulevard, O’Brien had a playing stint in the Second Division with St David’s, playing his last season with them in the old First Division in 1992-93.
After retiring as a player, O’Brien immediately took up refereeing as well as a Bermuda Football Association match commissioner, a role he served up until his death.
He also served on the St David’s management committee for a time and was a registered cricket umpire.
In later years, he watched on with pride as his son, George Jr, developed into one of the finest cricketers of this generation.
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