John O'Shea: 'I can't believe Declan got man of the match - I thought I was a shoo-in!'

Sun, Jun 03 2018

O'Shea heaped praise on his younger teammates as he made his international exit. Credit: Michael P Ryan

John O'Shea was his typical picture of humility after bowing out of international football with a 2-1 victory over the United States at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night.

35-year-old O'Shea was replaced by Darragh Lenihan of Blackburn Rovers in the 33rd minute and left the field to a standing ovation on the occasion of his 118th and final appearance.

The defender – who is out of contract with Sunderland but expected to continue his playing career either at the Stadium of Light or elsewhere, felt it was the ideal way to say goodbye.

“It was a fantastic moment for me,” O'Shea told broadcaster Eir Sport after the game.

“Obviously, I'd planned it a while ago with the manager to come off that bit earlier because the season finished a few weeks ago for me.

“I might have a thing or two coming up in the next week or two, [so] I had to be a little bit careful.”

After going behind to Bobby Wood's goal on the stroke of half time, Graham Burke and Alan Judge scored their first international goals to ensure O'Shea signed off with a win.

And the former Manchester United defender used the opportunity to shine a light on those players just beginning their international journeys – including debutant Lenihan.

“It was great [to get the win], Burkey stealing Darragh's goal and then obviously the winer from Alan Judge.

“He's been through a hard time with injury, and he's put in the hard work and that's just what he deserves.

“It was fantastic – I still can't believe Declan [Rice] got man of the match – I thought I was a shoo-in!”

O'Shea was obviously comfortable having made the decision, insisting it was a celebratory end to an international career that saw him twice compete at the European Championship.

“It was amazing to have my kids here, my family here, cousins – half of Waterford were here! It's brilliant.

“It's just a fantastic night. There's no sadness – it's just all joy. It's been amazing to put on that green jersey 118 times

“Being from Ferrybank, to think I was going to go and play for Ireland 118 times, it's incredible. I'm immensely proud and delighted to be involved in a night like this.”

He signed off with a message for the fans who've supported him through his 17-year international career – and promised to join them in the stands soon.

“The main message I have for the fans is thank you very much. I can't wait to join you in the crowd supporting the boys in green and travelling on the road too.

“It's been an amazing honour to represent you all over the world.”

Watch the full interview below via Eir Sport.