Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

John O'Shea to become highest-paid Irish footballer ever

John O'Shea

Considering he is the only member of the current squad to spend the entirety of his career competing for top honours, it's appropriate that John O'Shea is within reach of becoming the highest-paid Irish footballer ever.

The Waterford man looks set to become an unlikely beneficiary from the Wayne Rooney contract saga if he agrees a new contract worth £80,000 a week, with Old Trafford bosses conscious that the versatile defender is another with just one full season left on his existing deal.

Now O'Shea has the opportunity to coin in £16.5m over four years.

Should the 29-year-old agree those terms, it would guarantee his progression into the upper echelons of football's rich list.

Indeed, it would see O'Shea overtake Richard Dunne, Stephen Ireland and Robbie Keane, who all have to make do with pay packets in the region of £60,000-£70,000.

The only Irish player left to overtake is Shay Given, who collects £90,000 a week to ease the frustration of life as understudy to Joe Hart at Manchester City.

O'Shea is arguably safer than ever at Old Trafford, 11 years after his senior debut for the club.

He properly broke into the team in 2002 and was tipped for great

ness at centre-back before it became apparent that his strengths lay elsewhere.

After stints in centre-midfield and at left-back, he is now effectively first-choice right-back when everyone else is available, although he sometimes moves from that station if problems arise.

Either way, his standing has improved since their Champions League success in Moscow in 2008, when he was an unused substitute.

He started in the following year's final, capitalising on Gary Neville's deterioration, Wes Brown's persistent injury issues.

Of course, his salary pales in comparison to the £200,000 a week that Rooney's agent netted and also lags behind the reputed £100,000 that left-back Patrice Evra is on the verge of receiving.

O’Shea’s fortunes have soared in comparison to his contemporaries. Damien Duff was the main man five years ago, scoring back-to-back titles at Chelsea before taking the bizarre step of joining Newcastle on a £70,000-a-week deal, after a year on the fringes.

Alas, injuries took hold and when he moved back to London to link up with Fulham last year, it's understood that he took a paycut of approximately £20,000 a week — a necessary step when concerns existed about his fitness.

But it's fitting that O'Shea should ascend towards the top of the ladder.

Unlike the others named, he didn't need to move from club to club to leverage his earnings. Instead, he stuck it out and fought for his place, retaining the trust of Alex Ferguson.

With four Premier League medals and a taste of Champions League, FA Cup, and Carling Cup joy, he's got more than just ridiculous wealth to show for his efforts.

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