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17th May 2023

John O’Shea reminisces over Luis Figo nutmeg 20 years on

Rory Fleming

John O'Shea nutmeg

“I even got t-shirts in the post saying ‘I nutmegged Luis Figo'”

John O’Shea has enjoyed many memorable moments in both the green of Ireland and the red of Manchester United, though none are as iconic as his infamous nutmegging of Luis Figo.

Twenty years on from that faithful moment, we spoke to the former Old Trafford favourite as he reminisced on what was an unforgettable piece of skill.

John O'Shea nutmegJohn O’Shea was speaking as a brand ambassador for Just Eat ahead of the Champions League final.

However, although the nutmeg was the standout memory of what was a star-studded tie between Alex Ferguson’s side and Real Madrid’s Galacticos, O’Shea didn’t realise the magnitude of the moment as it transpired.

“It was a Champions League quarter final, you’re just trying to win the game first and foremost and see if we can overturn the deficit from the first leg. Unfortunately we couldn’t. We won on the evening but were actually knocked out”.

Figo at the time was in the peak of his powers. A Ballon d’Or winner in 2000 and FIFA’s 2001 World Player of the Year, the Portuguese star was one of the sport’s most celebrated figures.

However, facing off against one of the world’s best didn’t faze then 22-year-old O’Shea, who evidently took the challenge in his stride.

Speaking as to when he realised he had been involved in one of football’s most famed moments, the Ireland assistant coach said that;

“It was only afterwards when people were messaging me. I even got t-shirts in the post saying ‘I nutmegged Luis Figo’. It’s weird even talking about it now 20 years on, that people still want to reminisce about it”.

Despite winning the game on the night 4-3 thanks to a late David Beckham goal, United were knocked out of the competition on aggregate following a 3-1 defeat in the first leg in the Spanish capital.

Reflecting on that fact, O’Shea believes that Figo got the better side of the deal.

“I would have preferred Figo do that (nutmeg) to me 100 times and we (United) went on to win the tie. He’s done OK, he had the last laugh”.

*20 years on from his iconic nutmeg of Luis Figo. Just Eat are proud sponsors of the UEFA Champions League and have partnered up with John O’Shea to celebrate 20 years of this notable sporting moment. You can be in with a chance of winning tickets to the UEFA Champions League by visiting the Just Eat x John O’Shea mural on Camden Row, Dublin and scanning the QR code. For more information, visit

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