Sean O'Connor (born 7 July 1981 in Wolverhampton) is an English professional footballer, who currently plays for Hednesford Town.
After starting his career with local side Hednesford Town, O'Connor moved into the Scottish game with Scottish Premier League side Dundee United. From there he had a couple of loan spells, one with Greenock Morton and the other with Northern Irish side Portadown. Upon leaving the Arabs he had a spell with Queen of the South before heading back to England with Morecambe.
Since leaving Morecambe in 2006, O'Connor has spent his time in the Scottish Football League, with Queen of the South again as well as their near neighbours Annan Athletic.
O'Connor started his career at non-league club Hednesford Town, working his way through the youth system at Keys Park before making his first team debut during the 1998–99 season. His form attracted the attention of a number of clubs, with Dundee United paying £30,000 for him in January 2000, despite O'Connor only playing in 14 matches for the Pitmen. His chances at Tannadice were limited to only a handful of appearances and he was sent out on loan to gain first team experience elsewhere. After a short spell in Ireland playing for Portadown, he came back to Scotland to have a similar spell with Morton.
While O'Connor was on loan at Morton, he played in a remarkable match against his future club Queen of the South, at Palmerston on 26 February 2002. This game alerted O'Connor to Queens attention, so much so that the club signed him the following month.
On an extremely wet and windy night and with an attendance of only 1242, Queen of the South defeated Morton 6–5 in an 11-goal thriller. Queens raced to a 4–1 lead and by half time were 6–3 ahead. Morton scored two goals in the last few minutes and almost equalised with a great chance in the last moment of the match. O'Connor scored Morton's third goal that night in the 37th minute.
In March 2002, O'Connor joined Queen of the South from Dundee United on a permanent contract. On 20 April 2002 he scored the third goal in the 3–0 victory that clinched the 2001–02 Scottish Second Division Championship at Station Park versus Forfar Athletic. He was an instant hit with the Queens faithful as he ended his first full season in Dumfries as top goalscorer. Injuries took their toll during his second full season at the club and O'Connor reluctantly rejected the offer of a new contract from Queens due to family reasons, at the end of 2003–04.
O'Connor decided to return to England at the start of the 2004–05 season and signed a two-year contract with Morecambe at Christie Park, where injuries again restricted his time on the playing field. O'Connor scored three league goals in only 16 appearances.
In 2006, he made a surprise return to Queen of the South, joining on a short-term deal, originally to prove his fitness. O'Connor played in all six of Queen of the South's games in their run to the 2008 Scottish Cup Final. O'Connor scored the third Queens goal in the 2007–08 Scottish Cup 4–3 semi final victory over Aberdeen at Hampden Park to take Queens to their first ever Scottish Cup Final in their 89-year history. Barry Nicholson of Aberdeen later said that he felt O'Connor was Queens best player on the day.
In the 2008 Scottish Cup Final, as Queens trailed Rangers 2–0 at half time through goals by Kris Boyd and DaMarcus Beasley, O'Connor crossed the ball for Steve Tosh to score Queen of the South's first goal of the match in 50 minutes. The Doonhamers equalised in 52 minutes through club captain Jim Thomson. Kris Boyd scored his 2nd goal of the final and Rangers 3rd in 71 minutes to secure the Scottish Cup for Rangers.
O'Connor scored in the home leg of Queen of the South's UEFA Cup 2nd qualification round match against FC Nordsjaelland after 28 minutes. This made O'Connor the first player to score for Queens in a UEFA Cup Competition.
In April 2009 O'Connor announced he would retire the following month after a series of knee injuries, having initially been advised by medical staff to retire several months previously.
After retiring from the game at the end of the 2008–09 season, O'Connor decided to visit his surgeon and got the green light to relaunch his football career. O'Connor said "I had a rest from the end of the season last year to November before having the operation. I went into it thinking that my career was over because the damage to the knee was so bad. But when the surgeon opened it up it wasn't as serious as he first thought. When I woke up he told me that it wasn't as bad as I'd been told. That was a huge relief but I still didn't ever think I'd be playing football again. I spent a few months on crutches over Christmas before going to see him again in January. When I went back to see him I asked if I could start playing again with my mates. Maybe a game of five-a-side, just to get a kickabout for a bit of fun. That was all I was hoping for, but he said to me that he felt I could play again at any level I wanted as long as I do the work building up my muscles. So me being me took that as a challenge and I've spent the last while working hard to get myself fit. Realistically, I didn't think I would be back playing at this level again. But once I started running I've felt better and better so I've just kept pushing it to see how far I go. It's still just a case of taking it one day at a time."
After training with Queen of the South during February 2010, O'Connor returned as a trialist for Annan Athletic versus Elgin City on 6 March 2010. O'Connor played 81 minutes of the 3–3 draw at Galabank.
On 13 March 2010, O'Connor had a second match as a trialist for Annan Athletic versus Forfar Athletic and scored the opening goal in the 5–1 victory at Station Park. O'Connor played 63 minutes of this match.
O'Connor returned to the first team squad at Queen of the South on 18 March 2010. Manager at the time, Gordon Chisholm said, "The 'big man' actually hung up his boots at the end of last season but came out of retirement a month ago and has turned out twice as a trialist for Annan Athletic. Sean's been training with us for the past month and we all know what an asset he can be. He'll be in the squad for Saturday as a trialist but we'll be taking it one match at a time."
The first game of his return was at Somerset Park for Queens on 20 March 2010 versus Ayr United in a 3–0 defeat. O'Connor came on as a second-half substitute after 73 minutes and was immediately handed the captain's armband.
The second game of his return was at Dens Park for Queens on 23 March 2010 versus Dundee in a 1–1 draw. O'Connor came on as a second-half substitute after 67 minutes.
O'Connor signed for Queen of the South until the end of season 2009–10 on 25 March 2010 after impressing the new Queens caretaker manager Kenny Brannigan.
He signed a one-year contract with the club on 7 May 2010. However the club announced on 13 January 2011 that O'Connor had left Queens again.
O'Connor signed for the Galabank club on 13 January 2011, immediately after leaving Queens.
O'Connor was contracted to Annan Athletic for the 2011–12 season.
In the 2012–13 pre-season, O'Connor got in contact with his first club with the aim of training with the squad and getting back to fitness. O'Connor impressed enough during training to be given a number of appearances in Hednesford's pre-season friendlies, with him scoring twice against Heath Hayes and once against Sutton Coldfield Town.
On 6 August 2012, the club confirmed that they had received the international clearance required and O'Connor had signed a one-year contract for the Pitmen. O'Connor was loaned out to Stafford Rangers in March 2013 for four weeks.