Sunderland skipper John O’Shea refused to be drawn on his international future as the Republic of Ireland crashed out of Euro 2016 with a 3-1 defeat against France.
The 35-year-old started Ireland’s opening two games at the tournament, but did not feature in the win over Italy and made only a late substitute appearance in yesterday’s knockout loss.
O’Shea, along with fellow veterans Shay Given and Robbie Keane – who all have more than 100 caps – looks almost certain to call time on his international career.
When asked about his potential retirement after the French reverse, however, O’Shea opted to focus on celebrating a strong campaign with his team-mates.
“I’m not going to get involved in that now,” he said.
“I’m going to enjoy tonight with a special group of players and a special backroom staff and coaching staff.
“We’ll reflect on some positive things, and also things we know we can improve on going forward. Let’s wait and see.”
O’Shea came on to help tighten up the defence after Shane Duffy was sent off for a professional foul on two-goal France hero Antoine Greizmann.
Griezmann’s second-half brace brought the underdogs crashing down to earth following a dream start, when Robbie Brady’s penalty fired Ireland ahead two minutes in.
Duffy saw red with 22 minutes remaining to rub salt into the wounds, but O’Sheasaid he was proud of the whole team.
“It was so unfortunate for Shane, he’d been playing so well and he had to take that chance because obviously if we had conceded another one it would definitely been the end of it,” O’Shea added.
“He took the card for the team. We were still plugging away to try and get that equaliser, but I’m so proud of everyone involved.”
The Sunderland man was a part of the squad that limped out of Euro 2012 in Poland and was pleased the players were able to give their fantastic following something to be proud of in this tournament.
The players saluted the Green Army at the final whistle in some emotional scenes in Lyon.
“There’s no comparison [to the performance at Euro 2012 in Poland],” said O’Shea.
“That’s why it was a special moment at the end when we were in the corner just showing our appreciation to the fans.
“That’s something we were fully involved with this time around. The fans had the team, the players and the coaching staff to be proud of. That was something that was hugely important to us.”
O’Shea may be one of the elder statesmen in an Ireland squad that has 11 players who have passed their 30th birthday, goalscorer Brady insists the future is bright.
“You can see that we’ve got some quality players,” he said.
“You hear things about the future not being so bright, but I think we went out there and showed that we’ve got a bit about us today.
“We’ll be accepting nothing more than getting out of the World Cup group and representing on the big stage again, letting so many thousands of Irish fans show what they’re about as well.”
Griezmann revealed there were harsh words in the France dressing room to inspire their second-half comeback.
The Atletico Madrid star said: “We didn’t play well in the first half and we said things in the changing room. The coach said things, the players said things, but we were playing for France to give everything we had.”