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John O’Shea Recalls First Meeting With Cristiano Ronaldo As He Prepares Ireland Team To Face Him | Balls.ie

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John O’Shea’s club career saw him win Premier League medals aplenty with Manchester United and win a coveted Champions League winner’s medal in 2008.

He also nabbed winners in massive games against arch-rivals Liverpool and Arsenal and, perhaps most famously, nutmegged Luis Figo.

Figo was among the greatest players O’Shea ever came up against but most would agree that his greatest ever teammate at club level was Cristiano Ronaldo, during the Portuguese star’s first spell at Old Trafford

In some parts of the world, (namely Madeira, Portgual) telling people that you played alongside arguably the greatest footballer in history for six years of career, is much more impressive than winning a European Cup.

Now, as Ireland’s interim-manager, O’Shea is still planning on adding to that CV of his, but to do so, he will have to face his old friend once more.

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As Ireland prepare to face Portugal in an international Friendly tonight, the ex United star was asked if he remembers the first time he faced Ronaldo, over 20 years ago.

The prodigal teenager was playing for Sporting Lisbon at the time, and United faced them in a pre-season friendly and unfortunately for O’Shea, he was tasked with marking the future Hall of Famer.

Cristiano Ronaldo John O'Shea

“I do,” said O’Shea, when asked if he recalled his first encounter with Ronaldo back in that Lisbon fixture.

“Slightly jet-lagged, but I do remember,” added O’Shea, referring to the fact that the team had just returned from America ahead of the game. “Look, we were fully aware of his talent, obviously, that night in Lisbon.

“But the player that arrived into Old Trafford, into Carrington, I’ve mentioned before many times, his dedication in terms of improving his technique every week, every day…

“Look, there was some tough challenges, not only in terms of the opposition he was facing, but also in the training matches. We were making him fully prepared for what the Premier League was going to be, the tests he was going to have to face.

“It wasn’t a surprise to me to see what he’s gone on to do because we saw how special a player he was very early.

“As a team-mate, he was brilliant because of the character he was too, the relationship he had with everyone and it was superb to see him develop. The player that arrived and the player who left, you could see the difference, where he was wanting to go and continued to go.”

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John O’Shea explains why he doesn’t think Ronaldo will retire after the Euros

Ronaldo’s first International tournament was way back in Euro 2004, which makes it all the more incredible when you consider he is still lining out for them today, with 206 caps to his name.

However, despite so many miles on the clock, O’Shea does not think that this summer’s championship will be the end of Ronaldo as an international footballer.

“Knowing the type of person and professionalism Ronaldo has, I’m sure he has plans in his head to carry on for Portugal and where he’s going to go, in the future.

“Further down the line, he might have ambitions to manage his country also in tournaments to come – if he wants to bring those pressures on him.”

Ireland take on Portugal tonight with kick-off scheduled for 7.45pm before the Euros kick off on Friday night.

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