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John O'Shea's Take On Historic Luis Figo Nutmeg Sums Him Up Perfectly

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John O'Shea's Take On Historic Luis Figo Nutmeg Sums Him Up Perfectly

John O'Shea was the definition of a selfless player and the Irishman's take on his memorable nutmeg on Luis Figo sums up to a tee.

In April 2003, O'Shea produced arguably his finest moment in a Manchester United shirt when he sent the 2000 Ballon d'Or winner to the shops in a thrilling Champions League quarter final clash against Real Madrid.

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Ronaldo Nazario grabbed the headlines after bagging a hat-trick in a 4-3 second leg win Old Trafford but it was O'Shea who showed he is the real 'Galactico'.

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Playing at left-back, he slid the ball through Figo's legs with his right foot and darted away from the Portuguese superstar - one of the best in the world at the time.

It's a wonderful piece of skill to look back at but 18 years on, the Irishman says he'd rather have been nutmegged by Figo one hundred times if it meant United won.

Image: PA
Image: PA
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“It’s crazy the amount of people that still talk about it and mention it," O'Shea recalled during an appearance on Manchester United's official podcast.

"It was just one of those things.

“I was pure shocked. The game itself… it was weird, because when you’re left back the scenario for me would be easier coming back into the right foot. Obviously I’m naturally right-footed.

“Thankfully, when I did it, I was actually able to keep the ball and keep possession.

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“But I would have gladly let Figo nutmeg me 100 times and we win the game, if you know what I mean. The fact that they went and knocked us out was annoying.

“I’ll always remember the manager saying afterwards… about our ages, and the level you need to get to to be dominant in Europe, and understand European football.

“They’d done us. It took a while to get there, but we did in the end.”

Having signed as a 17-year-old from Waterford Bohemians, O'Shea was with United from 1999 until 2011, amassing 393 appearances and being an incredibly reliable option under Sir Alex Ferguson.

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The versatile cult hero won 14 major honours, scored a spectacular chip against Arsenal at Highbury and even kept a clean sheet in goal at White Hart Lane in February 2007.

Featured Image Credit: Image: Manchester United & UEFA

Topics: Manchester United, John Oshea, Real Madrid, Champions League, Luis Figo

Josh Lawless
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