John O’Shea pays emotional tribute to Ireland fans as he announces international retirement

John O’Shea pays emotional tribute to Ireland fans as he announces international retirement

FOOTBALLER John O’Shea has paid tribute to Ireland fans after announcing his international retirement.

In an open letter to the fans, the Sunderland defender, 37, revealed his last game will be the June 2 friendly against the USA at Lansdowne Road.

O’Shea, who made his senior debut against Croatia in 2001 aged 20, has won 117 caps for Ireland.

In an emotional letter, O’Shea said: “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.”

He added: “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 teammates, 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!”

O’Shea won the Under-16 European Championships with Ireland in 1998 before making the step up to senior level.

He appeared at the 2012 and 2016 European Championships and has also captained the national side.

Arguably his most memorable moment came in his 100th appearance in October 2014, when he scored a 94th-minute equaliser in Germany during Euro 2016 qualifying.

O’Shea, who made over 250 league appearances for Manchester United, also paid tribute to former manager Alex Ferguson and former club and country teammate, Liam Miller, who passed away this year.

“I would also like to acknowledge the support I have always received from Sunderland and, prior to that, Manchester United, in particular, Sir Alex Ferguson who is in my thoughts at the moment – get well soon Boss!” he said.

“I’ve never taken anything in life for granted and the passing in the last year of my Dad, Jim, and my friend & teammate Liam Miller has shown me that every moment in life (not just football) should be cherished.”

You can read his letter in full on the FAI website here.