Unlikely Hero or Unsung Hero ??

Posted: May 1, 2009 in Football

I was planning to write my review of the champions’ league semis, but decided to put it off till the end of the 2nd leg next week. Both ties are finely in the balance, but my picks to go through are Barca and Man U. If my predictions come true, the finals at Rome, will be one cracker-jacker of a match!!

Man U and Arsenal were separated by a solitary goal from John O’Shea, the widely-derided odd-job man who never gets any credit for his loyal service to the club over the last few years. So, I decided to write this post in honor of the man who has put in the hard yards over the years, while the other superstars in the team like Ronnie and Rooney walk away with all the plaudits of the pundits and the adulation of the fans. O’Shea also turned 28 yesterday, after spending his entire career at the same club.

O’Shea has always been an unsung hero for Man U, walking straight into the team to fill an injured superstar and doing more than a commendable job of the same. His versatility and experience have often in the past been the cutting edge to Man U, especially towards the end of a grinding season. He has played as left back, right back, centre back, holding midfielder, and an auxiliary striker when Man U bomb the ball forward in desperation, whenever they are behind. He has even played goalie briefly in one match after the regular goalie was red carded.

Every victorious season of Man U has had an O’Shea touch to it, none more so than the crucial last grasp goal he scored against Liverpool in the 2006-07 season when Man U put a end to the brief domination of Chelsea in the Jose Mourinho era. This season, when Man U’s defense put together 14 consecutive clean-sheets, Vidic and Van de Sar were getting all the plaudits. But O’Shea was quietly doing his work, featuring in 13 of those games. Like the say about defenders, you know they are doing a sterling job if you don’t notice them during a match. This season, with injuries to the first-choice full backs, O’Shea has stepped in and has been a more than able replacement.

Alex Ferguson recognizes the worth of people like O’Shea to his team. In his glowing tribute to this unsung hero after the CL Semis, Fergie said “He is a great professional. The boy never complains. He is happy to play anywhere. He has not always been a number one choice but he produces 30 performances a season and it is a contribution we are grateful for. He has played in both full-back positions, central defense and in midfield. He is so versatile and offers such great value for us. He has played in most games this season. At the present moment in time, he would be in the team if we got to the final.

Players like O’Shea are extremely rare in today’s game. He doesn’t rant about the lack of first team chances and is more than happy to be a squad player in a great team. And he is getting rewarded for his patience, loyalty and professionalism with several championships at the club he loves. It would have been easy for O’Shea to walk away in search of a regular 1st team football at a smaller club, but he has resisted the temptation so far. His team management understands his worth and has been able to keep him happy in the squad.

I wish John the very best for the remainder of his career. His sterling services to the club will not be forgotten and he is sure to be recognized as a legend when he retires. I would take a smiling O’Shea over a sulking Anelka or a “Cashly’ Cole, any day!!!

Every team needs an unlikely / unsung hero. We surely have one in John!!!


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