If Nottingham Forest were to make a move for Australia international Brandon O’Neill, then a healthy dose of fighting spirit would be added to the City Ground ranks.

Determination is a quality the 25-year-old boasts in abundance.

Which may be why he is reported to be registering on the Reds’ recruitment radar.

The Sydney Morning Herald claims that Forest had O’Neill watched in April.

Did they like what they saw?

Possibly.

Namesake Martin O’Neill may, however, face competition if any approach is made.

The Daily Mail reports that Blackburn, Bristol City, Ipswich and Portsmouth are also keen on a man with one senior cap for his country.

O’Neill’s undoubted ability has brought him to the attention of those in England.

He does boast a back story, though, that impresses as much as his efforts on the field.

Progress

Original Image: Nottingham Forest/Graphic Design Beth Davenport

Progress to this point has not been easy for the Perth native.

Back in 2001, at just seven years of age, O’Neill saw his sporting dreams left in tatters.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald: “It was at a school disco when I first felt the pain. I was doing a knee slide – which was the trend at the time – to impress all the girls. It was around Christmas time and I felt my left hip become sore.

“I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t put pressure on it so we started thinking it could be something more serious. I was off school, I couldn’t put any pressure on it and I went into hospital and I was diagnosed then with Perthes disease.”

Perthes disease causes bone deterioration at the hip joint due to issues with blood supply.

O’Neill’s diagnosis left him in a wheelchair for 12 months.

“I didn’t approach it in the way of thinking the world is over,” he added.

“I just remember it being part and parcel of life. I felt like this was what I had been dealt. I was in a wheelchair, people knew of me in school and I was always really well looked after.”

O’Neill was not about to give up and had a ball at his feet almost as soon as he was back on them.

Highlight

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“I remember one day being able to kick a ball around with my cousins and that was just a huge highlight because I just watched them do it for so long, more than year,” he said.

“I ran home screaming ‘Mum, Dad! I was able to kick a ball, get me into a team now, I am ready’. They were a bit taken back because of what happened. To my dad’s credit, he pushed it with my mum a lot and they put me in the same team with my two cousins, Mark and Leigh.”

There has been no looking back from that point.

O’Neill penned a two-year contract with Perth Glory in 2012 and is currently on the books of Sydney FC, having headed to New South Wales in 2015.

A reputation for tough tackling and ability over a dead ball has been established down the years.

Those qualities are now attracting admiring glances from the other side of the world.

Forest are hardly short of dogged midfielders, but they may be in the market for more.

Especially with Claudio Yacob sparking talk of interest from Olympiakos.

O’Neill could be considered a gamble with no experience of life in England or Europe, but he does have history when it comes to defying the odds.

A different kind of miracle man to those from 40 years ago may prove to be a welcome addition on Trentside.

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