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Nutmegging Figo & 100 Caps: A Tribute To John O’Shea’s Best Moments

Originally published on April 30, 2019.

On Tuesday former Ireland and Manchester United defender John O’Shea announced that he would be calling time on his career at the end of the season.

O’Shea, who has been at Championship side Reading since the start of the season, brings the curtain down on a career that has spanned over 20 years and included five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, Champions League and 118 international caps,

As the former Irish captain prepares to hang up his boots at the end of the season, we take a look back at some of his finest moments for both club and country.


A Sumptuous Chip Against Arsenal

During his time at Manchester United, O’Shea gained a reputation as a versatile utility man who could fill in in a number of positions around the field.

One thing he was not known for though, was his ability to put the ball in the back of the net. Perhaps that’s the reason Arsenal’s defence allowed him to saunter past them and through on goal when the pair met at Highbury in 2005.

O’Shea made a darting run through the centre and picked the ball up unmarked just outside the 18-yard box. The defender took one touch, steadied himself and beautifully dinked the ball over the onrushing Arsenal keeper and into the back of the net.

The goal (and the celebration) were both iconic moments in O’Shea’s career.


100 Caps & A Priceless Equaliser Against Germany

O’Shea’s career in green was an incredibly successful one, but perhaps his finest moment in international football came during his 100th cap.

After two victories to begin their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Ireland were the heavy underdogs as they faced then World Champions Germany away from home, in a game that was hugely significant for O’Shea.

In his 100th cap and with the game looking to be up, as Ireland trailed in stoppage time, O’Shea came up trumps to equalise with the last kick of the game as the Boys and Green rescued a precious point in their quest for Euro 2016 qualification.

O’Shea’s goal will live long in the memory of so many Irish fans.


Nutmegging Luis Figo

At this stage, it’s become somewhat of a cult-like moment in the career of John O’Shea but it’s impossible to mention the Waterford man without referring to it.

In 2003, Real Madrid legendary winger Luis Figo was arguably still one of European football’s finest attackers and a daunting prospect for any defender.

His presence didn’t seem to bother O’Shea however, as he picked the ball up out wide, stood the Madrid number 10 up and delightfully stuck the ball through his legs in a moment that has now become synonymous with the Irish defender.


European Champion (With Both Club & Country)

Before signing with Manchester United, John O’Shea was an integral part of a history-making Irish U16s side under the tutelage of Brian Kerr in 1998.

O’Shea and his teammates, the likes of Andy Reid, Liam Miller and Graham Barrett, took the European Championships by storm, winning the competition in what is still one of the finest moments in the history of Irish football.

Off the back of that victory, O’Shea would sign for Manchester United, and a decade after European success with his country he tasted it once again with his club as Manchester United defeated Chelsea to win the 2007/2008 Champions League.

O’Shea was an unused substitute in the game but had featured six times throughout the course of the tournament as he added another accolade to his star-studded career.


O’Shea Between The Sticks

John O’Shea’s versatility at Manchester United knew no bounds. He may have been more known for his ability to play in numerous positions outfield, but his one single appearance in goal will never be forgotten.

Against Spurs in February 2007, O’Shea was forced to deputise for the injured Edwin Van Der Sar between the sticks after the Dutch keeper was forced off with a broken nose.

United did have the comfort of being 4-0 up at the time, but O’Shea was called into action on a couple of occasions, most notably denying his fellow countryman Robbie Keane with a tremendous sliding tackle when the Spurs striker found himself through on goal.


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Author: Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here [email protected]