John O'SheaPA Wire/Press Association Images

Irish international defender John O’Shea has led Manchester United to the 2011 Champions League final – and can’t wait to face Barcelona at Wembley later this month.

O’Shea was stand-in captain as United booked their European Cup date with the best team in the world thanks to a 4-1 win over Schalke, 6-1 on aggregate, on Wednesday night.

Two second-half goals from Anderson and first-half strikes from Antonio Valencia and Ireland’s Darron Gibson eased United through to the London clash with Barca, semi-final winners against Real Madrid.

“I was delighted the manager named me as captain,” said O’Shea after he took the armband in the absence of Nemanja Vidic.

“It was a fantastic occasion but the most important thing was we got the performance and the win we needed.

“Some of the performances that the lads put in really showed how strong the squad is. We could have scored a few more goals but we are very happy with the end result.

“We lacked the same intensity as we normally do against Arsenal at the weekend as the boys put in such a great performance in Schalke. The manager did take a risk but he also had faith in the squad.”

United lost to Barcelona in the 2009 final and O’Shea said: “We watched the game closely against Madrid. They got through it quite well but we can put it to one side.

“We have three huge games in Manchester United’s history before another massive match.”
Wembley, where George Best and United triumphed against Benfica in 1968, will be a special venue for the club.

O’Shea added: “Wembley and Manchester United has a fantastic history but fingers crossed we will have the Premiership wrapped up before then.”

United boss Alex Ferguson said: “It’s fantastic for the club. We’re where we want to be. I’ve said many times we should have done better in Europe over the years and I think this team can win the cup.”

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, set to retire this summer, added: “It was perfect, after the first leg we were quite well set up to be able to make changes and keep the majority of players fresh for the big game on Sunday.

“We saw how emotional Barcelona were after the Madrid game and maybe our reaction was a bit more subdued but Barca’s was because they have a big rivalry against Real.

“Barcelona play exceptionally good football and of course it’s going to be difficult, they showed that in the final in 2009. We have to show we learned the lesson from that one and be better prepared.”