herald

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Players like Glenn are invaluable

Glenn Whelan. Pic: Sportsfile
Glenn Whelan. Pic: Sportsfile

I remember when Glenn Whelan came over to Manchester City as a kid, they had a batch of Irish lads at the time, the likes of Paddy McCarthy and Stephen Elliott and Willo Flood.

They were all in and around the first team but Glenn was released and went to Sheffield Wednesday.

It's difficult for a young player to come back and all credit to Glenn and the work he put in, the desire he had to be a footballer, got him there. He improved more as he went on. He wasn't the quickest player in the world but he understood the game and his role and he became so vital in every team he played for.

A team needs a player in that role, sitting in midfield, controlling the game and the tempo, I know at certain stages of his Ireland career he got stick but for those of us who played with him, especially the defenders with Ireland, he was so good for us as he was always available, he always tracked back and helped out the defenders.

People think it's what you do on the ball that counts but it's the work you do off the ball that controls games, if you are in the right position and Glenn had great vision, he was so important for Ireland.

Whatever about his Ireland career, his record in the Premier League is, to me, a bigger statement. For the best part of ten years at Stoke you had a club who had all the financial backing to bring in any midfielder they wanted, but Glenn Whelan was always there.

They kept looking at other players and trying to replace him, they signed Gianelli Imbula for £18million but the managers always came back to Glenn and it was Whelo who played every week, that's how you know you have a top player. Sometimes it takes a manager to buy someone new and then realise that the player he already had was better, and that was the case at Stoke with Glenn.

You don't get that many Premier League appearances without having talent, on the outside people had a view of Glenn but for a decade he was consistent in the Premier League and international football and he deserves credit for that.

He kept teams ticking over and his club and country missed him.

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