O’Shea coy over Irish milestone

John O'Shea.
John O'Shea.
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SUNDERLAND skipper John O’Shea stands on the brink of joining the Republic of Ireland greats this month as he closes in on his 100th international cap.

And the 33-year-old could hardly have more auspicious opposition for the game which is likely to bring up his century, than World Cup champions Germany.

But modest O’Shea says such milestones and occasions are not things he dwells on as he looks to make the very best of an already long and distinguished football career.

“I know all these things are brilliant, but I don’t look too much about it,” he told the Echo.

“It’s fantastic and its very proud moments but more so I think for the family back home and my old clubs.

“For myself, I just get my head down and carry on.

“You work hard in training and you do the extra bits to keep yourself on top and stay away with injuries and that’s important – if you can do that, then it builds up in terms of your appearances.

“They’re very special and proud moments, but ones I’ll back on more so when I retire than right now.”

O’Shea currently stands on 98 Republic of Ireland caps but is expected to lead his country in two European qualifiers this month – at home, against Gibraltar, this Saturday and then away to Germany next Tuesday, October 14.

Everyone knows about the quality of Germany but the tiny British overseas territory is more of an unknown proposition.

“I think they’re the newest team in the Euros, so we’ll see” mused O’Shea. “Then we’ve got the World Cup winners, so we know how tough that is going to be.

“If you look at it, you just want to win the first game.

“If you’ve got any ambition of qualifying for a major tournament, you’ve got to win it.

“Thankfully we got off to a great start in the tournament with the two goals from Aiden McGeady against Georgia giving us a 2-1 win out there.

“And hopefully we’ll be going into the Germany game with a bit of confidence.

“They’ve had some fantastic players retire of late and got some new lads coming in so maybe that’s something we can benefit from, but if we’re honest they’re not bad players either!”

Should he play In both Republic games this month, O’Shea will become only the sixth Irishman to notch a century of caps for his country, a group which includes former Black Cats’ Shay Given and Kevin Kilbane.

The other three centurions are Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and Steve Staunton and with only Keane and Given still playing for the Republic, O’Shea has it realistically within his sights to be among the top three most capped Irishmen in the near future.

The 6ft 3ins centre-half has won 28 of his caps while at Sunderland and his total of 10 in a single campaign, (2012-13 season), is third only to Seb Larsson’s 13, (2011-12), and Kilbane’s, (2001-02), among Black Cats’ players.

O’Shea is at the end of a long tradition of top quality Irish internationals to have graced Sunderland Football Club, a list which includes Charlie, Hurley, Niall Quinn, Billy Bingham and Martin Harvey.