Gen­tle­man John will man­age Ire­land if he wants to

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - STEPHEN HUNT

FER­RY­BANK v Rath­gor­mack un­der 11s, Water­ford, 1991. Un­less I’m mis­taken this was the first time I en­coun­tered John Fran­cis O’Shea. By that stage of my fledg­ling ca­reer, I was al­ready used to peo­ple try­ing to kick the life out of me be­cause I was a striker who was usu­ally too quick for ev­ery­body else and would just never stop run­ning.

John was al­ready taller than the rest of us and he didn’t need to kick me or be bla­tant or bru­tal about how he was go­ing to stop me be­cause he was al­ready a bril­liant reader of the game and had a calm­ness about him.

He was a step ahead of ev­ery­one he faced even at such a young age be­cause he had a great foot­ball brain, which was why he didn’t need to go out kick­ing lit­tle nui­sances like me.

He had other sly ways to hold you up and hin­der you and he was al­ways too clever in his play and po­si­tional sense. In fact he was so frus­trat­ing to play against, that I ended up try­ing to kick him!

It was also around this time that I met John’s dad Jim for the first time and, like so many who played for the county team, I was greatly in­flu­enced by him.

What I liked about Jim was that he treated this ‘coun­try boy’ the same as the town­ies, which wasn’t al­ways the case, and he al­ways looked out for me. John has def­i­nitely in­her­ited that po­lite­ness and proper way of treat­ing peo­ple from all walks of life.

Our paths crossed reg­u­larly from then and we be­came great friends and team-mates for county and even­tu­ally coun­try.

The only time I can re­mem­ber him tak­ing me out was when we played against each other for the first time as pro­fes­sion­als, at Old Traf­ford 15 years later.

As I was wait­ing to come on as a sub for Read­ing against Manch­ester United, my man­ager Steve Cop­pell told me to ‘mark your mate at cor­ners’.

Sure enough, when it came to the set-pieces, I don’t think he could be­lieve this coun­try boy had been sent on to mark him, and he went out of his way to make life as dif­fi­cult as pos­si­ble for me — and tried to kick me. But that was the faith my man­ager had in me, just as Alex Ferguson had the faith to play John in so many dif­fer­ent po­si­tions.

Even though I was a Liver­pool fan, when I was at my first club Brentford, I loved noth­ing more than go­ing to watch Manch­ester United when­ever they were in Lon­don, as part of my foot­ball ed­u­ca­tion.

I even man­aged to cheer for John when he scored a fa­mous win­ner at An­field.

And I en­joyed watch­ing John play and de­velop into one of the best de­fend­ers Ire­land has ever pro­duced. In terms of game in­tel­li­gence and read­ing, he is up there with Paul McGrath. In fact, take away Italia 90, and John is prob­a­bly bet­ter.

He didn’t need to go fly­ing into tack­les and be ag­gres­sive or demon­stra­tive. His read­ing and un­der­stand­ing of the game did his talk­ing, although I can’t help but feel he would be even more loved and idolised if he was that type of snarling, an­gry player.

At some stage, man­age­ment dawns and, if he does want it, he will be man­ager of the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land one day.

With his peo­ple skills, game knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and the re­spect he has from ev­ery­one he meets, he re­minds me of Mick McCarthy and has all the at­tributes to fol­low him in man­age­ment.

Sheasy won’t chase it and he won’t shout from the rooftops to get at­ten­tion. But I am re­ally ex­cited to see what hap­pens in the next stage of his life.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.