Defender John O’Shea celebrated a “special moment” in his career after marking his 100th appearance for the Republic of Ireland with a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Germany.
The world champions looked to be heading for a 1-0 victory in Gelsenkirchen, courtesy of Toni Kroos’ 71st-minute strike, as the game entered the last of four minutes of stoppage time.
But it was then O’Shea stabbed home just the third goal of his international career to preserve Ireland’s unbeaten run in Group D and put another dent in Germany’s campaign following their weekend defeat to Poland.
Despite his unlikely role as match hero, O’Shea was quick to point out the role his team-mates played in their performance.
He told Sky Sports: “The manager (Martin O’Neill) put me forward with a couple of minutes to go and thankfully I was able to stick it away.
“But it was a big credit to the lads in front of me tonight. It was very determined and very dogged. It was a big, big performance but we came up with little bits of quality when we had to come out and play and that was very pleasing.
“Once they got that goal it was a big blow for us because we’re looking towards the end of the game to maybe catch them a little bit. And they got that first goal with maybe 20 minutes to go so we had to come out a little bit more.
“But the manager said to us at half-time that even if we do go that goal down then we will have chances and we will have time to play. We were able to string together some lovely passes. It was special night and thankfully I was able to play my part.”
O’Shea also confessed the goal will stay with him for a long time to come – and plans to pass his shirt on to his parents so they can share in his success.
The Sunderland defender said: “That goal just takes over those other two.
“It was a very special moment because the group has a fantastic spirit and we didn’t want to come off this pitch with just a 1-0 defeat. But that makes it a bit more special – we got something from the game.
“I think we might have to find a frame for it (my shirt). I’m not one for hanging stuff or putting stuff up on any mantelpieces but I think this one could be heading for the mantelpiece at my mam and dad’s house.”
Republic manager Martin O'Neill applauded the response his players showed to going behind against the World Cup holders.
He said: “It was a terrific game for us.
“We were backs to the wall in the first half. We had formulated a plan that we would try and thwart them as much as we can while at the same time, when we had the ball ourselves, try and manoeuvre it. We were unable to do that for periods in the first half, we seemed to be under pressure.
“We got through that time in the game, but it was a wee bit of a similar pattern in the second half when they scored.
“That changed the mindset of us to go and search for the equaliser. Even if we concede two, three, four I don’t care, as long as we try and get something from the game. And to the very, very end we kept going. Our spirit carried us through.
On O’Shea’s contribution, the manager added: “You couldn’t have written that script for him. He gets the goal and I’m absolutely delighted for him. He’s got a hundred caps now and that’s no mean feat.”