John O'Shea sets sights on another Euro finals with Ireland

Former Republic of Ireland captain John O'Shea is facing a massive challenge in the very early st...
Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

14.13 15 Apr 2020

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John O'Shea sets sights on ano...

John O'Shea sets sights on another Euro finals with Ireland

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

14.13 15 Apr 2020

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Former Republic of Ireland captain John O'Shea is facing a massive challenge in the very early stages of his coaching career.

O'Shea has been recruited as assistant to the new Irish under-21 manager Jim Crawford, as the duo attempt to carry on the excellent work of Stephen Kenny.

Kenny, who has stepped up to the senior international manager's job, left the under-21 team at the top of their Euro 2021 qualifying group and on the verge of being the first Ireland team to reach a first major finals at that age-grade.


Crawford was appointed just over a week ago, having worked as a coach alongside Kenny, and O'Shea has not wasted any time after getting the call from the former Shelbourne midfielder.

"It came about very quickly. I spoke to a lot of people about Jim and then spoke to Jim. We got on great and it has moved on very quickly since then," said O’Shea.

"One of the team’s analysts set me up on Hudl so I can watch some of the games, track the players to see how they are doing at their clubs, and look at the younger players who might be able to push up a level.

"I had seen some of the games already but being able to see everything is great so I can prepare for our games to come."

The tournament is most likely going to be pushed back one year to avoid a clash with the Euro 2020 senior finals.

The young Boys in Green still have to face Iceland in Dublin before travelling to Luxemobourg and then finishing with the toughest group fixture, away to Italy.

O'Shea is relishing the prospect of helping to guide the team in such high stakes games.

"There is great work going on with the underage Ireland teams, so hopefully we can continue that on and qualify with the Under-21s for the Euros," said O'Shea.

"There are some tough games to come but with a new coaching team in place everyone is very excited by it. They are also competitive games from the off, which means the adrenaline will be flowing straight away.

"It will be challenging, but getting the chance to work with Jim is fantastic.

"They are a great group of players, some of them I would recognise as I spoke to Tom Mohan’s Under-19s squad ahead of them going to the Euros last summer – they had some talented kids in that group.

"Now I’ll get to work with some of them but, ultimately, it is all about helping Ireland to do well."

In all his years as a senior international, whether it be leading the team on the pitch or in dealing with the media, the Waterford native always looked like a manager in the making.

All the while, O'Shea was laying the necessary groundwork to give himself the best chance at making it in the world of football coaching.

"Once I started hitting my 30s, I was planning for this scenario. I started my UEFA B & A Licence and it was important that I did it with the FAI, to do it back home," said O’Shea.

"This is a continuation of it now. I’ve been doing the UEFA Masters course and that has given me an insight to the business side of football with blocks on communication, marketing, the framework of competitions, etc.

"Now, the UEFA Pro Licence will help me get into management & coaching side of things."

This week O'Shea was confirmed as one of twenty coaches accepted onto the FAI's 2020-22 UEFA Pro Licence course.

And while the 38-year old, who is also coaching at English clubs Reading, makes no secret of his ambitions to become a manager, he doesn't want to rush the process.

"The path that I want to take to get into management is through coaching, as it’s something that I really enjoy," he added.

"Putting your ideas across to players, watching them train initially, see how they take it on-board, and working with them on it.

"At Reading, I’m working with two very experienced people in Mark Bowen & Eddie Niedzwiecki, while I’ve picked up a lot from various coaches & managers who I worked with during my playing career, both at club level and internationally.

"So I hope that I can take those experiences and add to them."

O'Shea won it all in a brilliant 12-year career with Manchester United; the Champions League, five Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups.

But even a man who has faced down some of the game's greatest players can get nervous, as O'Shea did when preparing to take on his first coaching session.

"I remember we were in Dublin for the first block of the UEFA B Licence and we had the players from the FAS-ETB course with us," recalled O'Shea.

"They were great players to have as a lot of them were involved with League of Ireland teams, but you felt the butterflies in your stomach when starting out.

"In the first few days, everyone was nervous but you could see the confidence grow in the players and also in ourselves in the way that we spoke to the players.

"When I was asked by Colin O’Brien, who was tutor, to put on that first session – knowing that he will be marking you and giving you feedback – it was definitely daunting."

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Euro 2021 Jim Crawford John O'Shea Manchester United Reading Republic Of Ireland Stephen Kenny

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