Sunderland captain O'Shea follows winning footsteps of Keane, Carr and Whelan

The Black Cats’ leader could become the seventh Irishman to lead his club to a cup win at Wembley.

John O'Shea celebrates with Roy Keane in 2003.
John O'Shea celebrates with Roy Keane in 2003.
Image: Neal Simpson/PA

JOHN O’SHEA WILL lead Sunderland out at Wembley on Sunday afternoon as they take on Manchester City in the Capital One Cup.

The defender will be hoping to emulate fellow Irish internationals Andy Townsend and Stephen Carr by lifting the League Cup trophy at the famous, old stadium.

The first Ireland international to lead a team out in a major English club competition was Archie Goodall in 1903. Unfortunately for the Belfast born footballer, his Derby County team were hammered 6-0 by Bury, at Crystal Palace stadium, in the FA Cup final. Roy Keane, O’Shea’s old teammate, led Manchester United to FA Cup success at Wembley in 1999 and captained United in two more finals at the Millennium Stadium in 2004 and 2005.

Including the country’s current assistant manager, here are eight Irishmen who have captained their club at Wembley Stadium.

Johnny Carey (Manchester United — 1948)

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Blackpool v Manchester United - Wembley Stadium Manchester United captain Johnny Carey (r) collects the FA Cup from King George VI (c) after his team's 4-2 victory. Source: S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport

The versatile Dublin defender led his team to a 4-2 victory over Blackpool. Jack Rowley was the United hero, with two goals, as Matt Busby’s team scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to come from behind and capture the cup.

In a 1995 obituary piece, The Independent described ‘Jackie’ Carey’s influence as Busby’s first United captain. It read, “Carey lifted the FA Cup after Blackpool, Stanley Matthews et al, had been beaten 4-2 in a glorious exhibition of fluent football. The skipper could take much of the credit: as well as his customarily smooth display on the pitch, he had contributed a quietly stirring half-time pep-talk when the Reds were 2-1 in arrears.”

Noel Cantwell (Manchester United — 1963)

15 years on and, with Busby still manager, another Irishman led the Red Devils to cup success. United were led by left-back Cantwell. There were two other Irish players, Tony Dunne and Johnny Giles, in the starting line-up for the 3-1 win over Leicester City.

Source: Leicester CityFC

Tony Grealish (Brighton Hove Albion — 1983)

The midfielder had the honour of leading Brighton out for their first ever FA Cup final. Grealish’s side drew 2-2 with Manchester United — he set up Gary Stevens’ equaliser — but lost the replay 4-0. Grealish handed the armband over to defender Steve Foster for that chastening replay against Ron Atkinson’s men. Once described, by Ivan Ponting, as ‘an effervescent little footballing tiger’, Grealish won 45 caps for Ireland.

Soccer - FA Cup - Final - Manchester United v Brighton and Hove Albion Grealish (left, standing) watches on as Frank Stapleton scores to make it 1-1 in the FA Cup final. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Ronnie Whelan (Liverpool — 1989)

Whelan lifted the FA Cup at Wembley to round off an emotional year for Liverpool. The Reds beat Everton 3-2 after extra-time to bring a modicum of joy to supporters in the raw months following the Hillsborough Disaster, which occurred during an abandoned semi-final clash between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Source: SouthAfricared

The Dubliner took over the captaincy for the club following a pre-season injury to Alan Hansen. The Scottish defender returned for the run-in but Whelan retained the captaincy. John Aldridge opened the scoring for Liverpool before substitute Ian Rush and Toffees midfielder traded goals in a pulsating tie. Whelan was denied the chance to lift the league trophy a week later as Arsenal pipped ‘Pool to the post.

Andy Townsend (Aston Villa — 1996)

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ASTON VILLA V LEEDS - COCA COLA CUP FINAL Townsend lifts the cup as Mark Bosnich and Paul McGrath celebrate. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The midfielder became the first Ireland international to lift the League Cup as his Villa team beat Leeds United 3-0. Aston Villa had three Irish players in action that day, with Paul McGrath and Steve Staunton also collecting winners’ medals that day.

Roy Keane (Manchester United — 1999)

The Cork native led his team out at Wembley knowing it would be his final game of the season. Suspension for a couple of bookings meant he would miss the Champions League final with Bayern Munich. Keane was determined to secure the second trophy of United’s treble quest but did not see out the match, hobbling off in the first-half after getting injured by a legitimate if somewhat brusque Gary Speed tackle. Teddy Sheringham, his replacement, scored United’s opener in a 2-0 win over Newcastle.

Stephen McPhail (Cardiff City — 2008)

McPhail, now with Shamrock Rovers, was the last Irish player to captain a club in an FA Cup final. Unfortunately for the former Leeds United man, his Cardiff team were beaten 1-0 by Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth.

Soccer - FA Cup - Final - Portsmouth v Cardiff City - Wembley Stadium McPhail hurdles the challenge from Portsmouth's Nwankwo Kanu. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Stephen Carr (Birmingham City — 2011)

Carr’s Birmingham denied Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal a much-needed trophy by coming from behind to win 2-1. the right-back, who also won the FA Cup in 1999 with spurs, lifted the League Cup as goals from Nikola Zigic and Obafemi Martins sealed a 2-1 triumph.

After announcing his retirement in 2013, Carr told The Birmingham Mail, “I will never forget that day lifting the cup. It was a big, big thing for me, a big, big thing for the club and the fans.”

Source: BC FC

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Patrick McCarry

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