Even apart from his winning goal in last week’s Champions League semi-final first-leg, John O’Shea’s stellar form throughout more than 50 club appearances this season could well secure him a new and improved Man U contract. Not that he’s complaining about his current deal, mind.

Alex Ferguson has already guaranteed the Ferrybank man, who was 28 on Thursday, a starting place should United reach the final in Rome. He made the squad for last year’s decider but didn’t see any game time..

“John is one of the great professionals of our time,” the United manager said after the 1-0 win over Arsenal. “The boy never complains. He’s happy to play anywhere. He knows he hasn’t always been our No 1 choice, but we know he will produce perhaps 30 performances in a season at centre-back, midfield, right-back, left-back. He’s so versatile. That’s his great value. He hasn’t missed many games this season and if you asked me would he be in the team if we reach the final, I would say yes.”


Daily Telegraph’s online post-match coverage described O’Shea as “the big boned Manchester United utility man.” His size has often seen him dubbed ‘Long John’. But it’s the range of his skills rather than the length of his limbs that explains O’Shea’s longevity.