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It’s 15 years to the day that John O’Shea turned football on its head

You're not a Man United fan if you don't remember John O'Shea nutmegging Luis Figo 15 years ago

We’re sure you won’t have missed the big footballing news from the weekend.

Sunderland confirmed their relegation to the League One with a home defeat against Burton Albion.

Champions League winner and the pride of Waterford John O’Shea will be playing against Accrington Stanley if he stays at Sunderland next season.


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The sadness in his eyes

Getty - Contributor
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The sadness in his eyes

Fifteen years ago to this day life was very different for O’Shea.

The Irishman was lining up for Man United against Real Madrid in a clash that would go down in history.

It was the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals and Old Trafford was a buzz of nervous energy following a 3-1 Raul-inspired defeat in the Bernabeu.

How wide is a piece of string?

Reuters
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How wide is a piece of string?

United needed to do something to settle the fans.

An early goal. A classic Roy Keane or Nicky Butt ‘let ’em know you’re here’ introduction on Zinedine Zidane.

What they got was so much better.

You’re about to get Keane’d

Getty - Contributor
4
You’re about to get Keane’d

Juan Sebastian Veron executed a trademark lazy swing of his right foot to find O’Shea on the left flank.

O’Shea controlled the bouncing ball on his chest, only to be confronted by Figo.

The easiest move would have been a pass inside to the centre-back or a speculative clip down the line looking for Ruud van Nistelrooy or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Not John Francis O’Shea. He stood Figo up, looked the Ballon d’Or winner in the eyes and knocked the ball through his legs.

Sure, Ronaldo scored the first of his three goals on the night barely five minutes later, but the damage was done.

United scored four times to win arguably the best Champions League games ever 4-3.

O’Shea had another moment to add to his Cult Hero CV, alongside scoring a winner at Anfield, chipping the keeper against Arsenal and keeping a clean sheet against Spurs.

The best Irish goalkeeper of his generation

PA:Press Association
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The best Irish goalkeeper of his generation

Unfortunately away goals meant United actually crashed out of the competition that night but O’Shea was back five years later to pick up a Champions League medal and take revenge.

Winners never quit, quitters never win.

Whatever happens next season, 23 April will always be O’Shea Day.


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