What would a club be without it’s cult heroes? Those men who, in the eyes of the fans, stand head-shoulders above others around them, those who live and die by the shirt they wear yet have never been given the recognition they deserve from the outside world.
Here at Shoot! we love to pick out these icons and give them the recognition and respect they truly deserve from the wider world. This week it is the turn of a man who would do simply anything to help his team, Man United cult hero, John O’Shea.
The Irishman joined Man United in 1999, aged 17, signing his first ever professional contract before making his first team debut in a 3-0 League Cup defeat at Aston Villa, however that was not a sign of things to come.
After making his debut the youngster then headed out for respective loan spells at then Divison Two side Bournemouth and Belgian outfit, Antwerp. During the years he spent on loan O’Shea earned his first ever call up for the national side, as Mick McCarthy handed him his debut, off the bench, in a friendly against Croatia.
Upon his return to Old Trafford for the 2002/03 season he began to show how much he valued a spot in the team and he played across the back four and in the midfield as he went on to earn his first Premier League winners medal.
After impressing in his first full season under Sir Alex Ferguson, O’Shea went on to become a very important member of the Scotsman’s squad, despite never being a first team regular.
The now Sunderland man played in every single position for the Red Devils, including as a ‘keeper, during his 12-year stint at the club, one of the main reasons he still holds such a prominent place in the hearts of United fans.
The Irish international has a trophy cabinet that, aside from the superstars of the sport, any footballer would be envious. The versatile player can boast a Champions League winners medal, alongside five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League cups as well as two FIFA Club World Cup’s and five Community Shield’s.
The Waterford born man made a staggering 358 appearances for Man United, scoring on 15 occasion. However, aside from his cameo appearance between the sticks, his most memorable moment is undoubtedly his nutmeg of Real Madrid legend, Luis Figo.
Despite all his success at Old Trafford, O’Shea has never received the credit he perhaps deserves from the wider footballing family, and arguably a section of Red Devils’ fans.
Since leaving Manchester, he has continued his Premier League career in the North East with Sunderland, joining the Black Cats in 2011. The former Red Devil has 188 appearances under his belt at his new club, with three goals under his belt, and will make another return to Old Trafford on Boxing Day this year.
You might not be loved by the whole of the footballing world, John, but you’re held in high regard here at Shoot!