Friday, 8 July 2011

A Dark Horse Becomes a Black Cat

After 13 years at Manchester United, John Francis O'Shea this week completed his move to Sunderland.

The Waterford-born 30-year-old enjoyed plenty of memorable moments in his 256 senior games for Manchester United.

A reliable utility player, the Irishman played for Manchester United in every single midfield and defence role. He even played in goal.

This is a compilation of some of those great footballing moments that we have O'Shea to thank for.

When Johnny Goes Marching Down the Wing

Johnny's debut came in 1999 when United suffered a 3-0 League Cup defeat to Aston Villa, but he first raised eyebrows in 2003 at St. James's Park.

After a strong run from left-back, O'Shea - valuing efficiency over majesty - dragged the ball back to leave Nolberto Solano for dead on the edge of the area, and fired a powerful shot against the bar. Giggsy was there to net the rebound, but O'Shea's industrious involvement elevated Pete Boyle's terrace favourite, 'When Johnny Goes Marching Down the Wing', from pub sing-a-long and away day ditty to full-on Old Trafford anthem.

When all around you are losing theirs...

After the infamous tunnel spat between Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Gary Neville, Arsenal and Manchester United were left to do their talking 'out there', on the Highbury soil.

After twice trailing, United found themselves 3-2 up thanks to goals from Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo. But the match was not yet won.

It was left to O'Shea to seal the 4-2 victory with a beautifully composed chip over Manu Almunia. The finish, coupled with O'Shea's reaction, was almost a heartwarming mirror-image of Eric Cantona's goal against Sunderland in 1996. But not as cool, obviously.

Mr. Versatile

Although admittedly 'master' of none, during his Manchester United tenure John O'Shea showed himself to be a jack of all trades.

In February 2007, during a Premier League match at White Hart Lane, O'Shea pulled on the gloves and went between the sticks as Edwin Van Der Sar received treatment for a broken nose and United had used all three substitutes.

With less than five minutes to go and United comfortably leading 4-0 there was little pressure on the Irishman, but he still managed to keep a clean sheet with a stellar understudy's performance.


Here, O'Shea shows that he isn't scared of the biggest teams or the best players. This is a little clip of Sheasy nutmegging Luis Figo when he was at Real Madrid.

"Isn't that just The Hallmark of Champions"

"The 90th minute, in front of the Kop. Gary Neville just told that was his dream," said O'Shea during a post-match interview, "and I've just gone and done it!"

Time was running out. We weren't playing well, but we needed to win. A draw could have led to a fourth consecutive year without the title, but a draw would have flattered us that day.

Cristiano Ronaldo aimed a free kick into the crowded Liverpool penalty area, hoping that Louis Saha or Nemanja Vidic would be able to poke the ball goalwards. But it spilled out to John O'Shea who, with one big smack towards the roof of the net, scored the goal that his Manchester United career will be remembered for.

Good luck, Johnny.