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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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  1. Chris Mitchell

    July 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    The Liverpool Goal, The Tottenham Goalkeeping Debut, The Arse Chip, The FIGO MEG! God, his form had gone down in recent seasons and United can’t keep around dead wood when they have young talent coming through, but I will miss seeing him.

  2. El Tri 2014

    July 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I was worried about losing O’Shea but Brucey would not stop with just Wes Brown. He was valuable contributor, played many positions and when we needed someone to have a great match O’Shea was always eager to step up. Sunderland is shaping up quite nicely.

  3. sahil

    July 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    a very verstile player..a big loss for man utd..

  4. Tony

    July 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    History suggests that players who leave Man Utd after age 30 don’t do well. I think I would worry that he can’t hold up to all the first team games and will quickly fade away.

    • Matt

      July 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      …Phil Neville…

      • Tony

        July 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm

        What does a guy who left at 28 have to do with my statement ?

    • MUFC77

      July 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      That might be a problem for Wes brown with his injury history but O’shea has for the most part been injury free throughout his entire career, sure hes had the small niggly injuries that every player gets but off the top of my head i cant think of any periods where he has missed the majority of a season.

      • Tony

        July 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm

        He missed a huge chunk of the season before last. Part of the reason MIGHT be that he’s never really had to play many full seasons. I think that’s what happened to other players, playing well for half a season’s worth of games was good but once they were expected to carry a full load things worked out differently.

        • MUFC77

          July 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm

          Who knows maybe your right, only time will tell. All round Its a good move for both O’shea and Sunderland, he deserves the chance to end his career playing more regularly.

  5. eChelseaFC

    July 8, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Every team needs a player like that wont complain if not in the team and can fill in everywhere.

    With the arrival of a new generation at United this summer a good time for him to move.

  6. Dave see

    July 8, 2011 at 6:53 am

    I’ve been a huge fan of O’Shea ever since I saw him play for the first time in the game against Chelsea in 2002-2003 season (he was absolutely fantastic (man of the match). Then of course as Matt mentioned above, my other favorite moment was the goal against Liverpool that really set them on their way to winning 2007 Premier League. I was at a pub in Columbus Ohio and totally lost my voice celebrating that goal. It was especially ironic because most of the United fans at the pub that day were complaining that Fergie was bring him on as a sub.

    I hope United can do as well without him as I’m totally with the author that players like O’Shea are rare and are key for a squad over long seasons with so many games in all of the competitions. Not that happy about it (he honestly was my favorite United player) but understand his decision.

  7. Evan

    July 8, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Um, that’s not an ode.

    • Tony

      July 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks for the valuable input

      • Evan

        July 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm

        You’re very welcome.

        • Guy

          July 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm

          Small from the get-go, Evan.

  8. Troy

    July 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    For as much as I’ll miss Sheasy, I’m happy that he’ll finally get the first team football he deserves for Brucey.

  9. Nik Arur

    July 7, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Wish he could’ve ended his career with United but he deserves regular first-team football. Sunderland’s defense just got heaps better.

    • MUFC77

      July 7, 2011 at 11:54 pm

      And yet another ex Utd player in team who’s going to give just that we bit extra when he plays against the big clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea because of his connection to us. Add in Brown, Gibson if he signs, Bardsley and Campbell and im sure they will be happy to stick the boot into Torres and RVP for us.

      • Troy

        July 8, 2011 at 5:32 am

        Great point. How bout when Brucey’s boys thumped Chelsea at the bridge last season. What a thing of beauty.

        • Steve Bruce Bruce

          July 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

          My pleasure boys. Love teaching those southern fairies a lesson or two.

  10. Nuzi

    July 7, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I am one of the biggest fan of Manchester United. Nice article writing.

  11. MUFCforlife

    July 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    An inevitable move though I personally wish he could have stayed for another year. A true Red Devil!

  12. Bin

    July 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    You’ve made him 8 years younger here!

  13. Harry

    July 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    O’Shea has been an excellent servant of Manchester United. He will be missed more than people think. There aren’t too many left at the club who are as versatile as he is. Always gave his best and never made excuses. Wish him all the best at Sunderland.

  14. Matt

    July 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Wonderful description of one of my favourite United players. I remember that game against Spurs in 07. United’s #1! He had the matchwinner at Liverpool that season as well. I am really sad to see him leave Manchester, but I know Steve Bruce will use him well because he’s getting 4 players for the price of 1.

  15. Lars

    July 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    born in 1981…but close to a legend nonetheless!

    I’ll always love his never-say-die attitude and his cheeky chip against le Arse!

    SHEASY we’ll miss you

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