The 33-year-old is set to make his 100th appearance for the Black Cats in their Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur, and Poyet says that he couldn't have asked for a better leader at the Stadium of Light.
He told the club's official website: "A captain is someone you need to rely on and trust. You also have to interchange opinions because when you view the game from outside you need information from the pitch, John is very good in those situations and he is a very good professional.
"I remember last year I dropped him for one game but he accepted it and just got better and better, it was a great example for the young players who need to look up to the senior professionals and the captain of the club."
O'Shea joined Sunderland from Manchester United in 2011.