An Ode To John O’Shea

Photo by americanistadechiapas

I love John O’Shea. Okay, it’s in that manly football fan kind of way, but still – I love John O’Shea. He’s my kind of player — not overly talented, not overly athletic and not overly handsome. But he will do a job for you anywhere, anytime, any place. Every team needs players like John O’Shea and in truth, outside of the top few teams, many players are like John O’Shea but the top teams have surprisingly few. Long serving, loyal, never complains, always available and ready to do whatever you ask of him. I haven’t run all the facts but his five championships, three League Cups, one FA Cup and one Champions League medal haul must make him one of the most decorated players of recent times. And yet he’s not appreciated.

John O’Shea was born 30th of April 1981 in Waterford, Ireland. He joined Manchester United when he was 17. He made his debut in 1999 in a League Cup game before joining Bournemouth on loan later that year where he played 10 games. The following season he made two League Cup appearances before joining Antwerp on loan. In 2001-2002, he made 13 first team appearances before becoming a first team regular the following season. After that he made more than 30 appearances every season except for 2009-10 which was blighted by injury. In the end he played 368 times for Manchester United and scored 14 goals. He has also played 70 games for the Republic of Ireland.

So where can he play? How about anywhere. He’s regularly played in the United first team across all defensive and midfield positions, spent numerous minutes up front and on February 4th 2007 he played in goal against Spurs after Edwin Van Der Sar was injured and all the subs had been used. He did not concede a goal and was frequently greeted with cheers of “United’s #1” for the rest of the season.

Watch the video highlights here:

My personal lasting memory of John is this one. Late in the 2004-2005 disappointing season for Man Utd, they played against Arsenal. Towards the end, the ball arrived at his feet on the edge of the box (what he was doing there is another question). We all expected the traditional sideways pass or perhaps a blast into the stands, but no, inspired perhaps by the sight of Almunia in goal, O’Shea chipped him. The only thing better than the goal was his totally bemused reaction and his rather reluctant celebration.

And of course he has his own chant

When Johnny goes marching down the wing,

O’Shea! O’Shea!

When Johnny goes marching down the wing,

O’Shea! O’Shea!

When Johnny goes marching down the wing,

The Stretford End are gonna sing…

“We all know that Johnny’s gonna score”

Football needs more John O’Shea’s and I fear they are a dying breed. Good luck to him at Sunderland (and thanks for taking Wes Brown with you) and I hope he continues his excellent career.


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