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Wes only left Shels because club needed transfer cash

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Wes Hoolahan in action for Shelbourne. Picture credit; David Maher / Sportsfile

Wes Hoolahan in action for Shelbourne. Picture credit; David Maher / Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Wes Hoolahan in action for Shelbourne. Picture credit; David Maher / Sportsfile

Wes Hoolahan says he still feels part of the Shelbourne family and only left the Reds because the cash-strapped club needed the transfer fee.

Hoolahan won three Premier Division titles at Tolka Park and picks out a Champions League battle with Deportivo la Coruna in 2004 as a career highlight, before a 2005 move to Scottish side Livingston, the Dubliner claiming he was content to remain a Reds man.

"Shels is always part of me, I had a great four years there," he says.

"I would never have left there only for the financial situation when the club had those debts and they had to sell me. I recall Pat Fenlon pulling me aside one day and saying, 'Wes, the club are in a bad situation, Livingston have come in for you, and we need you to do it'. I think it was seventy grand at the time. Only for that I'd probably have stayed at Shels as I had no interest in going away but when the opportunity came up I had to take it.

"Winning the league was great but playing against Deportivo in front of 25,000 people in the Champions League, that was something special, playing against Valeron and Pandiani and then going to the Riazor with the tie still open.

"They'd been Champions League semi-finalists not so long before and here we were, so close to beating them, if Jay Byrne had put that chance away we'd all have been in the money."

Since Hoolahan left, Shels have spent more time outside the Premier Division than in it, but he's pleased to see them back in the top flight.

"Shels are and always will be the real Reds, it was sad to see them go down the way they did, but Ian Morris has done some job since he took over and they are doing things the right way, getting the academy going.

"They should have the top young players in Dublin playing for Shels," he says.

"I learned so much there, Shels made me as a player. I was 19 when I was there, dribbling around everyone in training, showing off, until Owen Heary smashed me one day at training, telling me to get up and stop feeling sorry for myself, that taught me a lesson.

"I was a kid and these boys all had the experience, people like Owen and Jim Crawford who really helped me at 19."