Republic of Ireland’s John O’Shea celebrates scoring away to Germany on his 100th appearance for Ireland in October 2014. Photo: INPHO/Donall Farmer
June 2 will be a milestone night in the career of Waterford’s own John O’Shea as that is the night that he will make his 118th and final senior appearance for the Republic of Ireland.
After an amazing senior career, which began with his debut in a 2-2 draw with Croatia at Lansdowne Road on August 15, 2001, the Ferrybank man this week made the announcement that the upcoming friendly with the USA will be his final one in an Irish jersey.
O’Shea is currently third on the list of all-time appearances for his country, with only Shay Given and Robbie Keane having featured more frequently than the defender. He is one of only six men who have represented Ireland over 100 times.
An underage star, who helped the Ireland Under 16s win the UEFA European Championships in 1998, O’Shea went on to captain his country 17 times and appear at both EURO 2012 and EURO 2016.
While the big defender had many great days in an Irish jersey, the one that will always standout will be the night he won his 100th cap for his country against World Champions Germany in Gelsenkirchen when he scored a last gasp equaliser (one of just his three international senior goals).
He’s been an absolutely brilliant player for Ireland for over 17 years and above all he has been a remarkable ambassador for Ferrybank and Waterford by always being a credit to his family, county, clubs and country. As you’d expect he left the stage with a beautiful open letter, in which he paid tribute to his schoolboy clubs of Ferrybank and Bohemians and his schools, St. Mary’s in Ferrybank and De La Salle College, his family (who of course lost his father Jim not long ago) and all his supporters and mentors over the years.
Well done John on a great career. You are a legend of Irish soccer and I’ve no doubt you will get the send-off you deserve on June 2.
Also, I see that a Facebook campaign has already started to get John the Freedom of Waterford……surely that’s a no brainer. As far as I can tell he’d be only the third sportsman ever to be granted that great honour after Sean Kelly and John Treacy. Let’s get those wheels in motion councilors. Here’s is John’s classy retirement letter…
John O’Shea’s Open Letter
After 22 years of representing my country (17 at senior level) it is with great sadness and joy that I will be pulling on the Republic of Ireland jersey for the last time on the 2nd of June in the Aviva Stadium.
It has been an amazing journey but I feel now is the right time to step aside for the next generation to enjoy the experiences I am so humbled to have been part of.
We have just passed the 20th anniversary of the Ireland Under 16s winning the UEFA European Championships in Scotland and it is fitting that the current U17 squad are now competing on the same stage. I still look back at that particular triumph as the real starting point for my international career. I’m sure the young lads making up Colin O’Brien’s squad will be loving every minute of the tournament; just like I did under Brian Kerr and the late Noel O’Reilly.
I always wanted to play as much as I could at senior level and to now have 117 caps has truly been an honour.
There have been many highlights, such as leading Ireland out as captain, featuring at two UEFA European Championships, and getting to share a pitch alongside so many committed and talented players over the years.
It is a similar sentiment with regard to my managers at international level – Mick McCarthy, Brian Kerr, Steve Staunton, Don Givens, Giovanni Trapattoni, Noel King, and Martin O’Neill, they placed their trust in me and I hope that I paid them back in a small way by always giving everything on the pitch.
I would also like to acknowledge the support I have always received from Sunderland and, prior to that, Manchester United, in particular, Sir Alex Ferguson who is in my thoughts at the moment – get well soon Boss!
I’ve never taken anything in life for granted and the passing in the last year of my Dad, Jim, and my friend & team-mate Liam Miller has shown me that every moment in life (not just football) should be cherished.
I have certainly cherished my international career, it will be emotional walking out for the final time in front of the Ireland supporters. But it is now time to say thank you and allow others to lead the team forward, it’s been an amazing honour to wear our green shirt.
I would like to thank my family especially, my Mam, Mary, and brother Alan, who have given me nothing but support over the years, my friends, my underage coaches, especially at Ferrybank and Bohemians (Waterford), my schools Ferrybank BNS and De La Salle college, my team-mates, every staff member who has helped me through the years, my managers, and, most importantly, the Ireland supporters – it was always a real privilege to play in front of you!
To my wife, Yvonne, I thank you for your constant support, and to my kids, Alfie and Ruby, we can look forward to watching Ireland games together as supporters.