Saturday 21 April 2018

John O'Shea opens up on his infamous Cristiano Ronaldo roasting

Cristiano Ronaldo and John O'Shea during their Manchester United days. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo and John O'Shea during their Manchester United days. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

John O’Shea has given his version of events surrounding the night that inspired Manchester United to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, after insisting his disastrous display against the Portuguese superstar back in 2003 was not the prime motivating factor behind the transfer.

O’Shea was given a torrid time by Ronaldo in a pre-season friendly back in 2003, with United manager Alex Ferguson signing the Portuguese starlet a few weeks after that match.

Ferguson and Rio Ferdinand are among those who have suggested O’Shea’s nightmare night against Ronaldo was central to his move to United, but the Irishman has now offered his version of events in an excellent interview with ESPN’s Mark Ogden.

“We flew back from a tour of America and straight to Lisbon with severe jet-lag,” recalled O’Shea.

“Normally everyone wants to play games, but on this occasion everybody had had a terrible nights’ sleep before the game, waking up at two, three, four in the morning wide awake and not able to get back to sleep.

“So everyone was not, shall we say, in ‘peak’ condition for the game. Some boys were delighted when the boss announced the team and they weren’t starting!”

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. Photo: Susana Vera/Reuters
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. Photo: Susana Vera/Reuters

“On to the game and I’m starting right-back. Just before the game kicks off, I look up and a young Ronaldo is staring straight at me. He’s there and full of concentration, ready to go.

“Now in some books written by former colleagues, there have been some highly exaggerated stories, and believe it or not, about how much ‘Ronnie’ went past me time after time, and ripped me apart!

“My version would be different, but he did have an excellent game.

“At one stage, I remember looking at the dugout when the ball had gone out for a throw-in and some of the lads on the bench were having a good laugh, thinking that’s the last thing you need when jet-lagged - a young lad wanting to run at you time and time again, going left, going right, twisting turning, shooting every time he got within distance of the goal.

“But in a roundabout way, I take it as a compliment that the boss wanted to sign Ronaldo so quickly after the game, because of how he had performed against me that night.”

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