AIDEN O’Brien is targeting at least 20 goals this season after reaching the objective he set for himself in August when he grabbed his 10th of 2015-16 at Southend last Monday.
O’Brien said earlier this season he wanted to be in double figures before the end of the year, and he ensured he achieved that with the fourth goal (above) in Millwall’s 4-0 win.
The 22-year-old is level with Lee Gregory at the top of the Lions’ goal charts and he admitted he is also pleased to have proved a few doubters wrong.
“It’s a massive achievement for me already just getting my first 10 goals in my first professional season and it’s only halfway through,” O’Brien said. “So God knows what I could be on by the end of the season.
“It was a target that I know not a lot of people believed I could get, and they’re the sort of people that you can look at and say, ‘You know what, I believed in me, it didn’t matter that you didn’t believe in me’. I went and did it. I back my ability and so far I’ve gone and proved it.
“Joint-top goalscorer and double figures which is what I wanted. I’m playing every week and that’s something I’ve been waiting a long time for at Millwall. It didn’t come straight away, it’s something that I had to work very hard for and it’s finally paying off.
“The next step is to get the next 10.
“The gaffer is picking me every week because I’m doing it on the pitch. We’ve got a good understanding, me and the gaffer. Hopefully we’ll keep pushing and get up the table.”
O’Brien will travel to Barnsley with the rest of the squad today and though he admits December was a difficult month for the side, he insists the result at a Southend side that were in a rich vein of form is the ideal boost before they clash again with the Tykes, who beat them 3-2 at the Den in August.
“I can’t wait, I’d play tonight (Thursday) if I could choose when to play,” he said. “Our tails are up and we’re ready to go. We’ve won a big 4-0 away from home and we’re going away from home again. It’s going to give us huge confidence in how we’re going to play. We haven’t been bad in recent weeks but we haven’t been at our best.
“We’ve been unlucky with the chances we’ve missed but hopefully we’ll go to Barnsley and the gaffer will pick the team he thinks will win and we go out and win the game. That’s all that matters, really.”
And O’Brien, who made his debut as a 17-year-old in 2011, offers some simple advice for any young footballers wondering about the key ingredient to making it as a professional footballer.
“You go to work, and you work hard,” he stressed. “You don’t get paid extra for working hard, that’s the minimum as I see it. You have a choice to either work hard or you don’t. I work hard because that’s how I’ve been for my whole life. That’s from my family, my dad – always work hard at whatever you do. I go on that pitch and I work as well as being able to do the fancy things.
“But working hard is the minimum requirement for everybody.”