A DECADE AGO John O’Shea was hoping to make a breakthrough on two fronts.
At club level, he was toiling away behind the first team at Old Trafford, yet still held out hope for a long-haul ticket to Japan and Korea.
Ireland’s call did not come in time, but he felt it surely couldn’t be long before he would play on the big stage again.
“Obviously, if I had broken into the United team earlier I might have had a better chance.” Said O’Shea looking back to the beginning stages of his career, adding, “but I totally understand why Mick (McCarthy) didn’t bring me along, he stuck with the players that had qualified and got him there.”
10 years on, O’Shea looks back on a time when he thought these tournaments were a regular occurrence rather than a rare which could define his international career.
“It was just one of them things, you were disappointed, but thinking: ‘ah there will be another World Cup, there’ll be others’. Next thing, he we are 10 years later and it’s a European Championships we’ve qualified for.
“We just missed out on the World Cup so, believe me, where you do get there you really have to enjoy these occasions and make sure we do everything we can in the build up to make sure we prepare well.”
“It just shows you when it does come around; (you must) really do everything you can to get there – as a country we were spoiled a little bit when we had the success of (qualifying for) World Cups.”
With a slew of Premier League titles, O’Shea is one of Ireland’s most decorated footballers and is the country’s most capped player never to have graced a major tournament.
O’Shea’s situation in 2002, will have resonance with his former club-mate Robbie Brady and, of course, the current name on everybody’s wish list for Poznan: James McClean.
The defender would not be drawn too far into recommending that Giovanni Trapattoni select the winger, but did praise the former Derry starlet, insisting, “If selected, I’m sure he’ll treat it the way he’s treated all this season, he’ll just take it in his stride.”
“He’s been fantastic for us all season if he does make the squad all well and good. I know the attributes that he does have and he’d be a big bonus to us. But I’m just happy he’ll be playing for Ireland for many more years to come.”