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'We called him the Mayor of Waterford' - Ferdinand hopes O'Shea can guide Ireland to Euros

The pair spent a trophy-laden decade together in Man United’s defence and Ferdinand admits O’Shea will be sorely missed in Friday’s first-leg.

Ferdinand was full of praise for his former team-mate.
Ferdinand was full of praise for his former team-mate.

RIO FERDINAND HAS offered a word of warning to his former Manchester United team-mate John O’Shea and the rest of the Ireland defence ahead of next week’s Euro 2016 play-off.

The former England centre-back, and current BT Sport pundit, believes Martin O’Neill’s side must stop Bosnia-Herzegovina at source or else face the prospect of being cut to pieces by Miralem Pjanic and Eden Dzeko.

The Roma pair have been in ominous form of late, both scoring in the Serie A club’s Champions League victory over Bayer Leverkusen during the week.

And Ferdinand, who was tasked with nullifying the threat of Dzeko on several occasions, admitted he was surprised when Manchester City allowed the striker to leave the club.

“I think he’s a good player,” Ferdinand says of Dzeko. “I’ve played against him a few times. I was surprised that Man City let him go, I think he’s someone who always scores, we saw it in the Champions League for Roma.

“He’s a top level player, I played against him when he was at Wolfsburg as well, he’s someone who’s physical and strong and when given the opportunities he puts them away more often than not.
“He’s big, he’s strong and he can be aggressive and he can finish. I think the best thing Ireland can do is stop it a source. Stop the ball getting in. Pjanic is probably their best player and if he gets time on the ball he can be deadly.

“Sheasy [John O'Shea] and all the boys are going to have to be tight…well Sheasy might be suspended.”

Indeed, O’Shea will miss Friday’s first-leg in Zenica through suspension after picking-up two yellow cards in the final group game in Poland.

The Sunderland defender is also nursing a hamstring injury and Ferdinand admits his absence will be felt, particularly against a potent Bosnian strike force.

“How many caps has he got for Ireland? 100 and something. That’s ridiculous,” Ferdinand says when asked about O’Shea’s absence.

Roundtable interview with Rio Ferdinand for Setanta Sports at WebSummit 2015 Ferdinand was in Dublin yesterday for the Web Summit at the RDS. Source: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

“I don’t care what country you’re playing for 100 caps is ridiculous. he was always a reliable player, a really good lad.”

Ferdinand and O’Shea spent nearly a decade at Old Trafford together, winning multiple Premier League titles as well as the Champions League in 2008.

O’Shea returned to United after loan spells with Bournemouth and Royal Antwerp in the same season Ferdinand arrived for £30 million from Leeds United.

“We used to call him the Mayor of Waterford,” Ferdinand continued. “I went to Waterford with United when I was a kid after first signing for United.

“He wasn’t even a regular in the first team then and I’d just signed and to be fair to him they were more interested in Sheasy – it was unbelievable.

“He was just a young kid but in Waterford he was the man. It was funny.”

“But he’s a great lad, we got on really well with him when he was here and I’d love to see him at the back-end of his career to go to a tournament, it’d be good.”

Former Manchester United player and BT Sport Ambassador Rio Ferdinand was at the Web Summit in Dublin yesterday. All BT Sport channels are part of the Setanta Sports pack in Ireland and will feature key upcoming Premier League games such as Manchester United v Chelsea on December 28th along with every UEFA Champions League and Europa League game. To subscribe, visit www.setanta.com.

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Ryan Bailey

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