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'Roy looked out for me' - O'Shea says Keane never picked on him at United

Ireland’s number two will be “a big, big asset” in bid to qualify for the Euros, says O’Shea.

John O'Shea was speaking to launch the McDonald's FAI Future Football programme 2014 at the Aviva Stadium today.
John O'Shea was speaking to launch the McDonald's FAI Future Football programme 2014 at the Aviva Stadium today.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

JOHN O’SHEA HAS dismissed Alex Ferguson’s claim that he was “intimidated” by Roy Keane during their playing days together at Manchester United.

Keane’s volatile personality is no secret and in his recent autobiography, Ferguson wrote that O’Shea was one of those players who was “picked on” and then blossomed after the Corkman left Old Trafford.

But there is no rift between the club and country team-mates who have since been reunited at Ireland where Keane is the assistant manager to Martin O’Neill.

“The relationship is great,” O’Shea said today.

“Roy always wanted the best and he always looked out for me. He only wanted the players to improve all the time and he’s a winner, he wanted to be the best all the time. That’s it pure and simple.

Whether it be a slight exaggeration or whatever, to sell books people have to highlight certain things.But no, it was absolute pleasure to play alongside and be in the dressing room with Roy.

“Thankfully now he’s on our side in the dressing room coaching us and he is hopefully going to be a big, big asset to qualify for the Euros.”

Ireland will not play their first competitive fixture under O’Neill and Keane until the Euro 2016 qualifiers begin in September but the dream team has already been linked with a move back to club management.

O’Neill last week ruled out a return to Nottingham Forest and O’Shea says the clamour for their services proves that Ireland have got the right men.

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“They’ve been very good and I’m sure they’ll be mentioned with many other roles. The type of quality that they have and that they have shown at clubs, they’ll be mentioned with lots of clubs going forward.

Fortunately we’ve got them as our manager and assistant manager so that’s the positive we have to take from it.

At club level O’Shea is bracing himself for a difficult few weeks as Sunderland stare down the barrel of a relegation dogfight.

A 2-1 defeat against West Ham last night left them four points from safety with eight games to play, and the Waterford man said that ensuring the Black Cats’ survival is the “ultimate motivation.”

Former international team-mate Damien Duff, who is in relegation trouble himself with Fulham, revealed this week that he would like to finish his career in the League of Ireland and O’Shea may follow suit down the line.

“That’s something that definitely could be in the future but the main thing is for me to play at the highest level in England for as long as I possibly can.

“If I’m still fit and able to be able to do a job properly, [it could] be in the League of Ireland or anywhere else. It could be somewhere for me to start coaching, to take over a team or be part of a team where I can learn from a League of Ireland manager would be fantastic experience too.

“There are lots of avenues but the main thing is to stay at the highest level possible for as long as you can.”

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Niall Kelly

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