Tuesday 27 September 2016

Wes Hoolahan named alongside Modric, Kroos and Bale in best XI of Euros opening round

Tom Rooney

Published 15/06/2016 | 16:54

13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
13 June 2016; Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Following his bravura goal-scoring performance against Sweden, Ireland playmaker Wes Hoolahan has been selected in the Guardian’s composite XI from the opening round of games at Euro 2016.

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For the countless dissenting voices that rallied against Irish managers for refusing to indulge the refined gifts of the diminutive number 10 of Belvedere Boys provenance, the aftermath of Monday evening’s draw with Sweden was likely a validating catharsis.

Not of their own egos, however, but in the witnessing of one of the most technically accomplished players this island has ever produced finally showcasing his gifts to the world.

At 34, Hoolahan is among the oldest footballers in recent memory to emerge on the international stage and take his place in the category of ‘One to watch out for.’ Still, it was worth the wait.

His goal, taken with consummate precision, was a fitting crescendo to a performance of seamless craft which steadily grew over the course of the contest.

As such, the Norwich man has been recognised for his day’s work by the Guardian. He takes his place in the team of the round, which is selected based on the findings of statistical website WhoScored.com.

As part of a five man midfield, Hoolahan is in rarefied company. In his preferred role, he is sandwiched by Toni Kroos (Germany) and Luka Modric (Croatia).

The flanks are occupied by Dimitri Payet (France) and Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland), giving the middle third a distinctly Premier League dynamic. Wales’ Gareth Bale is the lone front man.

Surprisingly, not one Italian was deemed good enough for the back five players. Iceland’s Hannes Halldorson is in goal, with Darijo Srna (Croatia) and Tamas Kadar (Hungary) occupying the full-back berths.

In the heart of the rear guard is goal-scoring German auxiliary Shkodran Mustafi and Fabian Schlar of Switzerland.

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