John O’Shea will go to Bournemouth this weekend with Sunderland as they aim to get out of the relegation zone. The Sunderland captain spent a few months on loan with Bournemouth when he was at Manchester United and has reflected on his time down south.

It was a fantastic experience at Bournemouth. Sir Alex Ferguson said I needed to get battered and bruised to toughen me up — and I got battered plenty of times down there! I still keep in touch with the lady I stayed with. Ken, my old landlord, passed away a few years ago, but his wife Audrey still sends me letters. She also sends knitted jumpers for my kids!

They were lovely and really looked after me. They treated me like one of their grandsons. Through the years they followed my career. Jermain Defoe stayed there when he was at Bournemouth for a while.

Ken used to take me down the bingo. And if I had a bit of a cold, Audrey joked how they tried to make me into an alcoholic by giving me a drop of brandy! They were so devoted.