John O’Shea’s reaction when Man Utd lost the title left Sir Alex heartbroken

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John O'Shea's reaction to Manchester United losing the Premier League title left Sir Alex Ferguson heartbroken on the final day of the 2011/2012 season. United were seconds away from the Premier League title only for Sergio Aguero to score that famous goal against QPR.

On one of the most dramatic days in sport, Manchester City clinched the title ahead of their local rivals despite being 2-1 down to QPR after 91 minutes. Across the country, United were preparing for party mode after beating Sunderland and going three points ahead.

As the away fans at the Stadium of Light started to celebrate, news filtered through that not only had City drawn level with QPR – they had actually won it. It took Roberto Mancini's men level with United but higher than them on goal difference in the tightest Premier League battle ever seen.

The Red Devils were left devastated and heartbroken in the north-east but they were not the only ones with one Sunderland star also shattered. Speaking at An Evening With Rory McIlroy at the Convention Centre in 2017, Ferguson spoke up about his old pal O'Shea – who had moved to the Black Cats.

"When we lost the league to City, for 30 seconds we were champions," he said. "We actually thought we had won it and we were on the pitch until the Sunderland fans started chanting.

"I went from half ready to celebrate to coming back into the dressing room. I'll always remember, as we were going down the tunnel, John O'Shea was standing there and he was almost crying. John was a Sunderland boy [by then].

"He said, 'Boss, what can I say?' I had to brush by him as my mind was going 'What can I say to these boys of mine?" O'Shea and Fergie enjoyed a close relationship at Old Trafford where they won a number of trophies together including the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup.

"I let them over it and I said, 'Right, anybody interviews you, you congratulate City. We're going to win it next year'." And win it they did, with Robin van Persie arriving that summer to fire the Red Devils to their 20th league title in the 2012/13 season.

Just 12 months after that incident at the Stadium of Light, Ferguson decided to call time on his storied career.

  • Manchester United FC
  • Premier League

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