I know my role in Euros - Whelan

Potters star happy to play Trap's game and ready to prove his doubters wrong

Paul Hyland

IT only takes a few minutes in Glenn Whelan's company to understand why Giovanni Trapattoni relies on him and is happy to do it.

While others doubt him and by his own admission he feels a need to constantly prove people wrong, Trapattoni has tapped into Whelan's core characteristics and harnessed them shrewdly.

First and foremost, Whelan views the world in an ultra-pragmatic way. If he is asked to do a job, he will follow his brief to the letter.

That doesn't mean he has no mind of his own. But a man who has worked his way from lower league football in England into a position most kids dream about understands implicitly that a player who has talents which are often invisible to fans, must bend with the wind.

"I definitely want to prove people wrong. I've always had to do it. I'm not a player who's going to do tricks or beat people or score 20 goals a season. That's not me. I know what I'm good at and I just keep trying to improve that," said Whelan.

"If I need to prove the manager wrong, or other players wrong or the press then I'm going to work as hard as I can to change these people's minds. The stuff I do is not pretty, but I know my role.

"It's different roles for different managers and if a manager wants you to play a certain way, if you don't someone else will come and do it."

There must be a great comfort to have such a clear view of his place in the world and even more in the knowledge that the hard work has delivered for him big time.

Since Trapattoni spotted something he liked in Whelan in Portugal back in 2008, the curve has been steadily rising.

"Portugal was massive for me because it was my first time to break into the senior squad and I'm grateful to the manager for that. He saw something in me and stuck by me but I'd like to think with the hard work I've put in that I've repaid his faith me."

The last year has been his best by far, preceded briefly by some murmurs about a move away from Stoke.

"Over the last 12 months I've had the play-offs, beating Estonia, qualifying and a new contract.

"It's all down to hard work and the only reason there was ever any talk about leaving Stoke was because I wasn't playing."

"Any player, no matter what age, where you're playing or what team you're playing for, if you're not playing it doesn't matter how much money you're earning.

"If I wasn't playing now I'd go and speak to the manager to see if there is any chance I could play somewhere else. Football is what I've always done. It's what I love doing.

"If it's Saturday and you're not involved, sitting in the stands or sitting on the bench, it's hard to take," said Whelan who took a proactive approach to getting back into Pulis' plans.

"I was bashing down the door and he kept telling me to go away. There was talk of clubs interested but I don't think it ever got that far."

Whelan's reaction to a kind act by Pulis a month ago speaks volumes for his approach to his profession.

Realising that Whelan looked a bit "leggy" at Molineux against Wolves, Pulis pulled him and told him to kick back and take a break with the approaching Euro 2012 in mind.

"I was a little bit disappointed because we had a big game against Villa two days later.

"I had enough of sitting on the bench and in the stands a few years ago. If my place is gone and whoever fills it does really, well, I'm not going to get in for next week."

This is a fear which underpins Whelan's career and gave him an edge which allows him to absorb disappointment, a retreat to the lower divisions and come back stronger for it.

He has learned to adapt and obviously has learned to compromise, an approach which he believes can be successful in Poland in June.

"We can't go gung-ho or before you know it you're one or two-nil down.

"That would be childish of us. We haven't come this far to throw it away in the first game.

"Get the result and worry about the performance after. The last thing you want is to get beaten heavily by Croatia. Confidence is gone and then the fans are a little bit worried about what might happen against Spain and Italy.

"We achieved nothing yet. We've qualified, that's great but qualifying and then being a disappointment over there is not what we want."