JIM O’BRIEN was somewhat worse for wear on the last occasion he met Manchester City’s prodigiously-gifted Spanish play-maker David Silva.
The Scottish midfield man bumped into Silva while on holiday in the world-famous gambling mecca of Las Vegas – with his club Barnsley having now hit the jackpot both on and off the pitch after being handed a mouth-watering FA Cup assignment at mega-rich City.
Despite lining up against some of the most decorated footballing names in the country today, O’Brien for one has pledged not to be in a haze this time around when he locks horns with Silva, Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez and company.
He insists he and his Barnsley team-mates will be enjoying the ride and will not be star-struck, with the pressure firmly on City and Roberto Mancini, mindful that success in the Cup and Europa League might go a considerable way towards him keeping his job and maintaining the faith of the club’s billionaire owners.
O’Brien said: “I do not really get star-struck and I have met lots of (famous) people before. Unless it is one of the Gallagher brothers, then I will not be getting that way!
“I actually met David Silva in Vegas at a pool party and I got a picture of myself with him. I was pretty drunk at the time...
“It is a few years ago now and I took the picture and just said: ‘David, do you want to sign that!’
“He was standing there with his sunglasses on at the end of the party looking pretty cool and I just thought: ‘Oh, that’s David Silva!”
Relishing the limelight, O’Brien – whose extrovert nature meant that ESPN did not have to look far when trying to find a player to take part in a pre-match feature which will introduce Barnsley’s players before the action gets underway – said: “I am sure for them, big games are the norm, but for us it is not. We are not used to lots of journalists and cameras and it is a nice feeling – you feel a bit important, like a movie star.
“There has been a good buzz about the place. We will give it a hell of a go. This is our Wembley.
“Our heads are firmly on the league, but this is a nice distraction and a bonus to be able to pit our wits against some of the best players in the world.
“The pressure is on them and it is a day out for us and we can just relax and enjoy the atmosphere with over 6,000 fans supporting us and they will be rocking and having a good time.”
O’Brien’s Cup exploits at Barnsley have led to considerable interest among his family and friends north of the border and he definitely will not be wanting in terms of personal support in Manchester this evening.
He said: “There are 18 people coming from Dumbarton. Seven came up on Friday night and with me being in the hotel, my family stayed in my house.
“All the other lads will come down on a bus I have booked for them. They have supported me throughout my career and I thought it was important they shared this occasion with me.
“It is nice for my dad. When I left Celtic, he stopped really going to games and when I moved to England, he got a little bit lost with what to do on Saturday afternoon as he was usually booked up coming to my games.”