Sunderland skipper John O’Shea has no plans to hang up his boots at the end of the season, despite speculation earlier this week suggesting otherwise.
The 36-year-old defender was part of Manchester United’s golden generation, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devil’s conquered England, and Europe too.
Since moving to Wearside in 2011, the Republic of Ireland international has become club captain and made more Premier League appearances than any other player in the club’s history.
But despite knocking up a trophy cabinet which rivals the best within the game, and making over 650 appearances at club level, O’Shea isn’t ready to call it a day just yet.
“I’m fit and well and you can see that by the amount of games I’ve played consecutively this season, especially over the festive period where I played five or six games in 10 days,” said the skipper.
“When you retire from playing it’s a permanent retirement and there’s no going back, and whenever I speak to former pros or team-mates, they all say to play on for as long as you can.”
Only George Honeyman has made more first-team appearances for the Lads this campaign, with Chris Coleman leading the praise when it comes to O’Shea’s impact on and off the pitch.
And like many of his former United team-mates, including Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, a professional approach throughout his career has allowed him to maintain a consistent level of fitness and performance.
“When I wake up in the morning my body still feels good – believe me, if it didn’t I’d be the first one to admit it and finish up.
“There’s plenty of things to look forward to when my playing career ends, from coaching and management to media and punditry work, and spending more time with my family, but my wife is certainly happy I’ve decided to play on for another year!”
After signing a one-year deal last summer, the defender is out of contract following the end of the current campaign.
But, as always, he’s refusing to think about his own future on Wearside, and instead solely focussed on helping the Black Cats move up the Sky Bet Championship table.
“First and foremost, I’m concentrating on helping the team between now and the end of the season – that’s the big thing, that’s the only thing.
“Perhaps I didn’t expect to play as much as I have this season, but I know I’m capable of playing week in, week out and I want to help the team so I’m ready whenever called upon.”
He continued: “When the team does well, we all do well as a club, and that’s something I’ve taken with me throughout my career, and will continue to do so.
“We have eight games remaining this season and eight opportunities to pick up the points we need to get ourselves out of trouble.
“After that we can sit down and talk about my future, and whether I’m playing here or somewhere else next season.
“But, as has always been the case throughout my career, the club, and what is best for it, has to come first at all times.”