Republic of Ireland Footballer Jake O’Brien becomes an Ambassador of Diabetes Ireland

Cork native, Jake O’Brien of French Ligue 1 team Olympique Lyon who made his Republic of Ireland senior debut in the recent friendlies has announced his new role of becoming an ambassador of Diabetes Ireland. ⚽



When home in Cork to see his family recently, Jake met with some young children and teens living with Type 1 diabetes and their families who actively volunteer with the charity where he spent time answering questions from what it was like to play against Christiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe to how he manages his Type 1 diabetes on a daily basis.


As a professional footballer with Type 1 diabetes, Jake has joined current international stars as Nacho Fernandez – Real Madrid captain, multiple champion league medal winner who is currently at Euros 2024 with Spain who was diagnosed at 12 years of age, and past Irish internationals Alan Kernaghan who played 26 times for the Republic of Ireland and played for a host of clubs including Manchester City in the English Premier League and Gary Mabbutt, England captain and Tottenham Hotspur who both live with Type 1 diabetes.


Diagnosed at 16 years of age when he noticed he was losing, rather than gaining weight while working out in the gym, he knew something was not quite right. After speaking to his parents who felt he was looking very pale, he went to the GP who checked his blood glucose levels which were very high and encouraged him to go to Cork University Hospital where he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.


Jake said, “I didn’t know very much about Type 1 diabetes, but I looked at it positively and decided right away to adapt it into my lifestyle and training and manage it effectively”.


On becoming an ambassador of Diabetes Ireland, he continued “I want to promote a positive message to everyone living with diabetes, especially young people and encourage them to strive to achieve their dreams and prove that diabetes is not a barrier to achieving your life goals, whatever they may be. I have kept an eye on the work of Diabetes Ireland for quite a while and I have seen how they work to provide support to people of all ages living with diabetes I reached out to them to see how I could help to raise awareness of diabetes and I am delighted they asked me to be an ambassador”.


Jake is especially keen to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes and highlights the TEST Campaign as a hugely significant initiative in raising awareness of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes among the wider population equipping individuals to recognise the signs early, seek help and avoid the development of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).  TEST which is easy to remember as an acronym represents the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. “We all need to know the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes so we can recognise them early and take action. The symptoms are the key indicators that you or your child might have Type 1 diabetes,” said Jake.



Kieran O’Leary, CEO of Diabetes Ireland said “We are delighted Jake approached us and offered to help us in our efforts to support the diabetes community. As a role model for children and teens living with Type 1 diabetes, I am sure his story of positivity and determination in working hard to achieve his dream of playing professional football, having the confidence to go abroad at a relatively young age, and not long after his diagnosis, to achieve his own personal goals will be a very powerful and welcoming message for families of young people with Type 1 diabetes and for the thousands of young adults living with Type 1 diabetes in Ireland.


Diabetes Ireland’s Teen Activity Day took place on Friday 5 July where 60 teens with Type 1 diabetes came together to have a fun day doing various water-based and land-based group activities and to meet other teens with diabetes. Over the years, our teens have made lifelong friends and have become part of our growing Teen Type 1 Diabetes community.



I would love to have attended the event and spend time with everyone but unfortunately, I had to return to pre-season training. Hopefully, I will get to meet them and many more teens and families going forward” concluded Jake. ENDS.