John Francis O'Shea (Irish: Seán Ó Sé) // (born 30 April 1981) is an Irish former professional footballer and currently the first-team coach for Reading. He was known for his versatility in playing several positions on either side of the pitch or the centre.
O'Shea lining up for the Republic of Ireland in September 2013
|Full name||John Francis O'Shea|
|Date of birth||30 April 1981|
|Place of birth||Waterford, Ireland|
|Height||1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|2000||→ Bournemouth (loan)||10||(1)|
|2001||→ Royal Antwerp (loan)||14||(0)|
|2000–2002||Republic of Ireland U21||13||(1)|
|2001–2018||Republic of Ireland||118||(3)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Born in Waterford, O'Shea joined Manchester United when he was 17. He spent loan spells at Bournemouth and Royal Antwerp before establishing himself in the Manchester United first team, going on to make 393 appearances and scoring 15 times in all competitions across 12 seasons. O'Shea won 14 trophies at United; five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two Football League Cups, four FA Community Shields, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. He is one of the most decorated Irish footballers of all time, with only Denis Irwin, Roy Keane, Steve Heighway and Ronnie Whelan having accrued more honours. He joined Sunderland in July 2011. Having played 256 times for the Wearside club and scoring four goals, he signed for Championship side Reading in July 2018 until his retirement in May 2019.
O'Shea made his Republic of Ireland debut in 2001 against Croatia and made 118 appearances for his country over the next 17 years, scoring three goals, his first in 2003 against Australia. He was part of the team that controversially lost to France in a play-off for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and went on to play in UEFA Euro 2012 and UEFA Euro 2016.
Prior to joining the Manchester United academy, O'Shea played for Ferrybank AFC and Waterford Bohemians. He signed professional forms at the age of 17 and made his professional debut on 13 October 1999 against Aston Villa at Villa Park in a 3–0 Football League Cup defeat.
Following loan spells at Bournemouth and Belgian side Royal Antwerp, he returned to Manchester and began to feature in the United first team in the 2002–03 season, demonstrating versatility by playing at left-back, right-back, centre-back and central midfield during the successful 2002–03 Premier League campaign.
In 2003–04, United were without Rio Ferdinand after he began a suspension for missing a drugs test in January, and O'Shea took over from Ferdinand in central defence, helping United reach the FA Cup Final where they triumphed 3–0 over Millwall.
He displayed indifferent form in the 2004–05 season and was linked with a move away from Manchester, with Newcastle United and Liverpool being linked with the Irishman. One of the highlights of Manchester United's otherwise slightly disappointing season was the 4–2 away victory against Arsenal, in which O'Shea scored the fourth goal by chipping Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia from the edge of the 18-yard box.
An injury to Gary Neville in the 2005–06 season also gave O'Shea more first-team opportunities. He was criticised for his lacklustre performances that season, and was reportedly one of the players lambasted by United veteran Roy Keane in a controversial interview on the club's MUTV channel.
On 4 February 2007, during a league game against Tottenham Hotspur, O'Shea deputised for Edwin van der Sar in goal after van der Sar was taken off the pitch for a broken nose, while Manchester United had already used all three substitutes. During this time, he denied his Republic of Ireland teammate Robbie Keane a goal with a save a few minutes before full-time. Following this incident, United fans chanted "Ireland's number one" in O'Shea's honour.
A month later, he won over many United fans by scoring a stoppage-time winner against Liverpool at Anfield for United in the league, having come on as a substitute for Wayne Rooney. This goal was important in United going on to regain the Premier League trophy for the 2006–07 season. He also rescued his team against Everton in one of the final games of the season, when he bundled the ball into the net after Everton goalkeeper Iain Turner fumbled a Ryan Giggs corner. United went on to win 4–2. This was perhaps an even more decisive goal, as Bolton Wanderers were drawing with Chelsea at the same time and defeat would have let Chelsea back into the title race. He scored another goal from close range, in a 2–1 defeat away to Portsmouth that season, this goal came during an injury-hit part of the season, where O'Shea, as a versatile player, was required to play at full-back. O'Shea had a shooting accuracy of 100% and scored with 80% of his shots in the 2006–07 season.
During the 2007–08 season, Manchester United used O'Shea as an emergency striker due to injury problems. His use as a striker gave him the distinction of having played in every position for Manchester United. In November 2007, O'Shea extended his contract at Manchester United, to keep him at the club until 2012. Throughout the 2007–08 season, O'Shea came off the bench several times and proved important as a utility player on the way to a European double. O'Shea captained his club for the first time, during a 2–0 home defeat to Coventry City in the League Cup Fourth Round.
Throughout the 2008–09 season, O'Shea became a regular within the team, deputising at right-back because of injuries to Gary Neville and Wes Brown. On 20 January 2009, O'Shea scored his first goal of the season against Derby County in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final. O'Shea then started the 2009 Football League Cup Final, before being replaced by Nemanja Vidić on 76 minutes, United won the game 4–1 on penalties. On 29 April 2009, O'Shea scored the only goal of the game in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Arsenal, this set United up to go on and win in the second leg by 4–1 on aggregate. O'Shea started and played the full 90 minutes in the 2009 Champions League Final 2–0 loss to Barcelona, and by many accounts was one of United's better performers on the night. Sir Alex Ferguson had promised O'Shea, who was an unused substitute in the 2008 Champions League Final, a starting place in the 2009 final for his contribution to the team that season.
O'Shea captained United for the second time against Birmingham City in their first game of the 2009–10 Premier League season. He celebrated his 350th appearance fittingly by scoring his first league goal in over two years against Stoke City on 29 September 2009, firing in a header in a 2–0 win. He captained the team for the third time in the second leg of United's 2010–11 UEFA Champions League semi-final victory over Schalke 04. O'Shea made 393 total appearances for Manchester United.
On 7 July 2011, O'Shea signed a four-year contract with Sunderland, managed by former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce, who paid Manchester United an undisclosed fee for O'Shea. In his first appearance for Sunderland, a friendly against Arminia Bielefeld, O'Shea picked up a hamstring injury, ruling him out for the rest of pre-season and the start of the 2011–12 campaign. O'Shea made his first competitive appearance for Sunderland on 27 August 2011 in a goalless draw against Swansea.
At the end of the 2016–17 season, which ended in Sunderland's relegation, O'Shea's contract had initially expired. However, the Irishman agreed to sign a one-year contract lasting until July 2018.
O'Shea scored his first club goal for more than four years to help Sunderland clinch a 4–1 away win over Derby County to move off the bottom of the Championship table on 30 March 2018. At the end of the season, O'Shea suffered a second consecutive relegation with Sunderland as the team finished in last place.
O'Shea made his Reading debut on 14 August 2018, coming on as an 82nd-minute substitute for Yakou Méïté in a 2–0 home win against Birmingham City in the EFL Cup. He made his league debut for the club on 22 September in a 3–0 home victory over Hull City in a match which he received a straight red card for a foul on Chris Martin.
O'Shea announced his retirement from football on 30 April 2019, his 38th birthday, and made his final career appearance five days later in a goalless draw at home to Birmingham City where he received a guard of honour from both sets of players.
O'Shea earned his first senior cap for the Republic of Ireland on 15 August 2001, when manager Mick McCarthy sent him on as an 84th-minute substitute for Gary Kelly in a friendly against Croatia at Lansdowne Road. His debut ended in disappointment, when he gave away a penalty for handball in injury time, which was scored by Davor Šuker for a 2–2 draw. He was not included in the Irish squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
His versatility has earned him a place in the starting eleven. Although played in various positions during last few qualifying campaigns, he has made the defensive slot his own, mainly in central defence with Richard Dunne and at right-back on occasion or filling in for injured players. On 19 August 2003, O'Shea scored his first international goal as he headed in Ireland's first in a 2–1 home friendly victory over Australia.
During the 2010 World Cup qualifying, O'Shea was ever present in the starting line-up for eight of the 10 games. On 1 April 2009, in the game against Italy, he was elbowed in the forehead by Giampaolo Pazzini, who earned the record for the fastest sending off in Italian football history. After receiving treatment for the bleeding, O'Shea continued playing all 90 minutes.
Including the second leg of their play-off victory over Estonia, made nine appearances in UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying, as Ireland reached the continental tournament for the first time since 1988. He played every minute of their finals campaign, a group stage elimination after three defeats. On 15 August 2012, his 80th cap, O'Shea captained Ireland for the first time, in a goalless friendly draw against Serbia at the Red Star Stadium in Belgrade. On 15 October 2013, he opened a 3–1 World Cup qualifying victory over Kazakhstan at the Aviva Stadium, his second international goal and the first in over a decade.
O'Shea was scheduled to face Spain on 11 June 2013 at Yankee Stadium in New York, but was ruled out of the game over the sudden death of his uncle Jimmy O'Leary. On 14 October 2014, on his 100th cap, O'Shea scored the equalising goal with the last kick of the match, in a 1–1 draw against Germany at Gelsenkirchen, in a Euro 2016 qualifier. In the final qualifier, a 2–1 defeat away to Poland on 11 October 2015, he was sent off for a foul on Robert Lewandowski and thus missed the first leg of the Republic's play-off.
O'Shea was selected in manager Martin O'Neill's 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016 in France. In the absence of Robbie Keane, he captained the Irish in their first two group matches, a 1–1 draw with Sweden and a 3–0 loss to Belgium. He was one of several players who lost their starting place for the decisive final game against Italy, as he and defensive partner Ciaran Clark made way for Shane Duffy and Richard Keogh; the game ended with a 1–0 victory. In the last 16, as Ireland lost 2–1 to the hosts at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, O'Shea entered as a 68th-minute substitute for James McClean.
Over a year after his penultimate game for Ireland, O'Shea played his final of 118 matches on 2 June 2018, a 2–1 friendly win over the United States at the Aviva Stadium. After 34 minutes, he was substituted to widespread applause as debutant Darragh Lenihan came onto the pitch. Before the game, he was congratulated by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who called him "one of the most inspirational, committed and admired members of our national teams".
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other[nb 1]||Total|
|Manchester United||1999–2000||Premier League||0||0||—||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Bournemouth (loan)||1999–2000||Second Division||10||1||0||0||—||—||—||10||1|
|Royal Antwerp (loan)||2000–01||Belgian First Division||14||0||0||0||—||—||—||14||0|
|Republic of Ireland||2001||1||0|
Ireland score listed first, score column indicates score after each O'Shea goal.
|1||19 August 2003||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Republic of Ireland||8||Australia||1−1||2–1||Friendly|||
|2||15 October 2013||Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland||93||Kazakhstan||2−1||3–1||FIFA World Cup Qualification|||
|3||14 October 2014||Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany||100||Germany||1–1||1–1||Euro 2016 qualifying|||
- Premier League: 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11
- FA Cup: 2003–04
- Football League Cup: 2005–06, 2008–09
- FA Community Shield: 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010
- UEFA Champions League: 2007–08
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2008
- Football League Cup runner-up: 2013–14
Republic of Ireland U16
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Giampaolo Pazzini and John O'Shea: the aftermath. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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