Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet has hailed John O’Shea’s leadership skills after watching him make his own way as a captain rather than adopting the Roy Keane approach.
The 33-year-old central defender signed a two-year contract extension on Thursday as the Black Cats tied up the immediate future of a man who has become central to their ongoing project. Poyet was thrilled to have secured the services of a model professional, whose upbringing at Manchester United helped to hone the personality traits which have seen him establish himself as the management’s representative on the pitch.
The Uruguayan said: “It’s the whole thing, definitely the influence of Manchester United because he was there playing with top players, and I am sure he took things from different characters. He cannot imitate – he cannot be his previous captain, Roy Keane – but he can imitate other ones. It’s just to learn and put what you are into the job. He does it naturally, I can tell you, there are no issues.”
O’Shea, who features in Keane’s updated autobiography The Second Half with the Republic of Ireland and Aston Villa assistant manager jokingly claiming he helped to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford by playing like “a clown” against the then Sporting Lisbon youngster in a pre-season friendly, capped a perfect few days by putting pen to paper on Wearside.
The contract announcement came less than 48 hours after he marked his 100th cap for Ireland by scoring a late equaliser against world champions Germany in Gelsenkirchen, illustrating the range of qualities Poyet values so highly. Asked if O’Shea is the perfect role model for his younger players, the head coach said: “I’ll tell you what, it’s easy that answer because yes, it’s true. He’s always there, he’s always on time, he is always fit – or most of the time – he looks after himself, he represents the club well, the players. That’s why he is the captain.
“You have different types of captain at different clubs, sometimes because of how good they are and they have to be the captain, sometimes because they lead by example, sometimes because they have even better, the package he’s got, he represents us on the pitch. He’s a very good link between the staff and the players on the pitch.”
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