Goal of the Day: O is for... O'Shea
Our A-Z Goal of the Day series reaches letter no.15 today, and we've decided that 'O' stands for O'Shea.
John O'Shea is one of the most successful products to emerge from the Manchester United Academy, playing just short of 400 games for the Reds and winning every major trophy available during 12 seasons of involvement with the first team.
Famous for his versatility – which even saw him appear in goal during one game against Tottenham Hotspur – Sheasy was predominantly used in the two full-back positions, but he also possessed a welcome habit of popping up with hugely valuable goals. Perhaps his most legendary strike, against Liverpool in 2007, is today's Goal of the Day, which you can enjoy in full below...
Goal of the Day: O'Shea v Liverpool Video
Goal of the Day: O'Shea v Liverpool
O is for O’Shea and who can forget John’s last-minute winner at Anfield? It’s today’s Goal of the Day…
Born in Waterford, in the south-east of Ireland, O'Shea joined the club as a teenager, and made his first-team debut in a League Cup tie at Villa Park in the autumn of 1999. Short loan spells with Bournemouth and Royal Antwerp followed, before the youngster made a more concerted breakthrough into the senior set-up during the 2001/02 season.
While today's Goal of the Day – scored at the Kop end at Anfield in the dying minutes of a fractious game with Liverpool – takes some beating, probably O'Shea's greatest moment came in the 2009 Champions League semi-final against Arsenal. While United's performance in the second leg, which finished 3-1 to Sir Alex Ferguson's men, is often remembered – largely for a pair of sublime Cristiano Ronaldo goals – less celebrated is the first leg, where a winner from O'Shea settled matters. After good work from Michael Carrick on the left of the penalty area, the Irishman instinctively thrashed home his team-mate's deflected cross on the half-volley. United should have scored three or four on the night, but our no.22's smart strike gave us a priceless advantage on the way to a second consecutive Champions League final.
Probably O'Shea's best season came in 2002/03, where he made a massive 52 appearances, mostly at left-back. This was the season in which he nutmegged Luis Figo, and regularly had the entirety of Old Trafford serenading him with his much-loved chant: 'When Johnny goes marching down the wing, O'Shea, O'Shea...' In 2005/06, while Paul Scholes endured a length spell of absence due to an eye problem, Sheasy even deputised successfully in central midfield, where he struck up an unlikely partnership with Ryan Giggs. In the latter part of the decade, there were excellent spells at right-back, particularly in 2008/09, which he finished by starting the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in Rome. He left United in 2011 after 393 appearances, having played a part in five Premier League wins, also claiming the FA Cup, two League Cups, four Community Shields and the Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup.
O'Shea joined Sunderland upon leaving Old Trafford in 2011, where he played as a strong central defender for many years, and assumed the captaincy. He signed a one-year deal with Reading in 2018, but announced his retirement at the end of that campaign, shortly after his 38th birthday. His international finale for the Republic had taken place a year earlier, in a friendly against the United States, where he made the last of 118 appearances, which places him third on Eire's all-time appearances list.
MUTV Group Chat with John O’Shea Video
MUTV Group Chat with John O’Shea
We caught up with former Red John O’Shea, who’s been keeping busy since retiring from football last summer…
WHAT THEY SAID
"He is a great professional. The boy never complains. He is happy to play anywhere. He has not always been a number one choice but he produces 30 performances a season and it is a contribution we are grateful for. He is so versatile and offers such great value for us." (Sir Alex Ferguson)
"I remember him as a young player and thinking: 'This kid’s got a chance.' He was a decent player. And strangely enough, he always seemed really balanced. We’ve talked about all the pitfalls in football but John always seemed to be really switched on." (Roy Keane)