COLCHESTER United new boy Kieran O'Hara says his time at Manchester United helped him become the goalkeeper he is today.

The Republic of Ireland international spent eight years at Old Trafford from the age of 16 to 24, before leaving them to join Burton Albion in 2020.

O'Hara, who was born in Manchester and is a Reds fan, is now aiming to make a big impact for Colchester, after joining them on a one-year deal.

However, the 26-year-old says his time with the Premier League giants has had a pivotal influence on his career.

O'Hara said: “It was fantastic – I really enjoyed my time at United.

“They were fantastic for me and they developed me from a young goalkeeper into competing in the Football League.

“I’m really grateful for my time there and I really enjoyed it.

“They helped me become the goalkeeper I am today.

“There’s always a pathway – it’s difficult the higher up the football pyramid you go.

"I was obviously at one of the biggest clubs in the world, so the pathway is probably going to be the hardest in world football.

“You’re realistic and gain the experiences you can and soak everything up.

“You go out and get your experience in the Football League like I did which really helped me to develop myself.

“My family are all Reds so growing up as a Manchester lad, it was an honour to play there."


Kicking out - new Colchester United goalkeeper Kieran O'Hara in action Picture: PA WIRE

O'Hara has made nearly 100 league appearances to date in his career and had a number of loan spells away from Old Trafford, including time with Morecambe, Macclesfield Town and Burton Albion.

He left League One side Fleetwood Town at the end of last season and is now looking forward to his new challenge, with Colchester.

“That’s the life of a footballer," said O'Hara, who made his international debut for Republic of Ireland in 2019.

“Contracts can come to an end but I always like to think I’m a pretty good option.

“I’ve got some really good experience for a goalkeeper of my age and I was made up when I got the call from the manager that Colchester were interested.

“I’m delighted to be here and get everything over the line.


“I’ve got some good Football League experience across League One and League Two.

“That helps me in terms of the job in hand here.

“I’d like to think that I was a good option to come in and help the team."

O'Hara will now battle with Sam Hornby for Colchester's number one spot.

He added: “Competition is a healthy thing, especially in a football team.

“It’s good to have quality players covering every position, so it breeds a good culture in the team and whoever is performing plays on a Saturday."