Leeds United: Whites pip Cardiff City to land O'Brien INTERVIEW

Andy O'Brien admitted his acceptance of a permanent deal at Leeds United had ended a run of sleepless nights after the Elland Road club sealed his signature by matching an offer from Cardiff City.

O'Brien has agreed a two-and-a-half year contract with Leeds following negotiations with both United and Cardiff last week and the 31-year-old said United's willingness to meet the terms proposed to him in south Wales had convinced him of their determination to tie him down to a deal.

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Leeds will make O'Brien their first signing of the January transfer window after his loan from Bolton Wanderers expires tomorrow and confirmation of the deal was announced before United's 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough on New Year's Day.

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Cardiff made a late attempt to sign O'Brien and held talks with the experienced centre-back on Thursday, but O'Brien returned to Yorkshire for negotiations with Leeds chairman Ken Bates on Friday and wasted no time in taking up an identical proposal.

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At least two other Championship sides were interested in the former Bradford City trainee, who has featured heavily in Leeds' run of 12 Championship matches without defeat and the player expressed relief after bringing an end to talks which were carried out without the help of an agent.

O'Brien said: "I tried to do things the right way and I didn't mess about behind anyone's back. I've been up front all the way through and when Cardiff came in with an offer, the first thing I did was ring Leeds and tell them exactly what the deal was.

"There was a bit of toing and froing and I said 'if you offer me what Cardiff have offered, then I'll sign'.

"That's what happened. One thing Cardiff noticed was that I had the guts to do everything myself without an agent. Leeds had the same feeling.

"It was quite a week and I haven't slept much but I wanted to deal with it myself. Sometimes when a third party gets involved, things can get lost in translation. It's a relief to have it sorted out."

O'Brien revealed that a deal with Bolton to keep him on loan at Elland

Road until the end of the season was already in place, but his contract at the Reebok Stadium ends next summer and the centre-back was worried about the implications of an injury sustained in the interim.

A long-term deal was the scenario that Leeds also favoured, guaranteeing them the services of a Premier League player who has been pivotal to their resurgence since the end of October.

United recruited O'Brien on an emergency loan after a run of four defeats in five games and his debut at Scunthorpe United on October 30 was the start of a 12-game unbeaten run extended by Saturday's draw against Boro.

Manager Simon Grayson was aware of "serious competition" for O'Brien but said: "If a good player is made available then top teams are going to come in for him.

"We did as much as we could to make sure we signed him. He could quite easily have said 'I'm going to Cardiff' because he was well within his rights to do that but we fought really hard to get him.

"We haven't been beaten to a signature at all this season and that's the case again with Andy. To beat Cardiff shows we mean business."

O'Brien had previously spoken of his frustration at the lack of opportunities at Bolton, the club he joined from Newcastle United in 2007 and accepted many weeks ago that his career would continue away from the Reebok Stadium.

"Two months ago, I was scratching my head as to where my future would lie," he said. "Now I'm just glad that I know where I'm going to be for the next two-and-a-half years."

Elland Road.

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