Waterford’s John O’Shea has said it’s with “great sadness and joy” that he will be retiring from international football on June 2.
The Champions League winner will wear the Republic of Ireland jersey for the last time against the USA at the Aviva Stadium, having represented the country for 22 years. “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,” the Sunderland player stated in an open letter to Ireland supporters.
“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," he continued.
O’Shea said it has “truly been an honour” to have 117 international caps, consisting of 111 starts, 46 wins and three goals during his 17 years with the Republic of Ireland senior quad. “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,” he praised.
O’Shea acknowledged the support he received from Sunderland and Manchester United during his international career, in particular Sir Alex Ferguson who is recovering from a brain haemorrhage. "[Sir Alex Ferguson] 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 and 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".
O’Shea reserved special praise for his family, friends, underage coaches and the schools he attended in Waterford. “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," he added.
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