Like any true Dubliner, James O’Brien has the gift of the gab – and he has two words to describe his exit from Valley Parade.

The easy-going midfielder is due to line up against his old club for Athlone Town tonight in the first match of City’s Ireland tour.

Jon McLaughlin and James Hanson are likely to be the only familiar faces in the opposing squad from O’Brien’s year in West Yorkshire.

But seeing the claret and amber shirts again will bring back fond memories – and highlight one of the biggest regrets of his football career.

O’Brien, brought in initially by Stuart McCall in the summer of 2009 following his release by Birmingham, was very much in Peter Taylor’s plans. But he decided to pull the plug himself the following summer and head back across the Irish sea.

Three years older and wiser, he looks back on that with a damning verdict.

O’Brien admitted: “I was naive and I was stupid. It was my own decision to cut it short and it was the wrong thing to do – I can see that now.

“But the problem was I was young and I was bored. I loved being at Bradford and everything about the club was brilliant.

“I loved playing football and working with the lads every day; pretty much everything around it. But I just had nothing to do after the training finished.

“I’d have stayed to train all day if I could because once it was over I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d end up either staying in the digs or going out for a cycle.

“I was young and foolish and just got bored, so I wanted to go back home. I never gave it a proper chance.

“Everything was so much easier when I was back home and, being a kid at the time, I just made the wrong decision. It was the simple thing to do.

“Of course, I think back now and wish I’d stuck with Bradford – but you learn from your mistakes. That’s in the past.”

When O’Brien first reported for pre-season at Marley Stadium in Keighley, his arrival among the gaggle of trialists was so low key that McCall didn’t even get his name right. He was “James O’Neill” until the home friendly against Burnley which convinced his manager the teenager could play a bit.

O’Brien made a name for himself as a useful squad member for both bosses he served, making 23 appearances and scoring twice, both against Cheltenham.

He would have featured more often but for a broken nose – an absence which started the feelings of stir craziness as he hopped back to Dublin to recuperate.

It was his own call to make the return home permanent at the end of that season. But established once again in the Airtricity League, O’Brien has not dismissed the possibility of coming back to England again.

He said: “I really hope I can get that second chance. That’s still my drive and my dream.

“I want to win the league this season for Athlone and play well for the manager. But then my long-term goal is to get back to England and show what I am capable of.”

O’Brien may have had only the one full season in the English game but that can get him a bit of extra attention playing on native soil.

He said: “When I started playing back here, people tried to take me out a little bit. It doesn’t happen so much now but players know you’ve been in England.

“You don’t get as much time on the ball here, although the standard is not too bad. We try to get the ball on the ground as a team and pass it. We don’t use the long ball.

“But it’s going well this season and I’m enjoying it. We’re second in the table at the moment behind Longford and we beat them well a couple of weeks ago.

“They just dropped their heads and we finished the game much fitter. We’ve got to play them again at the end of the season, so I’m still confident.

“We’re all looking forward to the Bradford game. It will be a bit weird for me playing against my old team but everyone enjoys it when a team comes over to us from England.”