Friday 20 September 2019

'The same skillset as Lionel Messi' - Eamon Dunphy pays homage to Wes Hoolahan on his international retirement

Eamon Dunphy (inset) has heaped praise on Wes Hoolahan
Eamon Dunphy (inset) has heaped praise on Wes Hoolahan Newsdesk Newsdesk

Eamon Dunphy believes fans will lament the fact that Wes Hoolahan only earned 43 caps for the Republic of Ireland after the Dubliner announced his international retirement today.

The Norwich midfielder announced that he was calling time on his Ireland career today in an exclusive interview with Aidan Fitzmaurice in The Herald.

He explained that he would be 38 by the time the next European Championships came around and felt the time was right to stand aside.

There were many highlights in the 35-year-old's career in a green jersey but his exploits at Euro 2016 where he scored in the 1-1 draw with Sweden and assisted Robbie Brady's famous winner against Italy will be cherished memories for Ireland fans.

Dunphy has been one of Hoolahan's biggest supporters and has criticised both Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O'Neill for not utilising the creative talent Wes possessed.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One this morning, he said: "I loved how clever he was. How brave he was to get on the ball in difficult situations and he had the guile and vision to open up defences.

"If you remember that great moment when Ireland beat Italy in the Euros. He was involved with Robbie Brady and it was classic Wes. He had the ball. A pinpoint pass from 40 yards and Robbie headed the goal and we were through to the knockout stages to play France.

"That was one moment but if you were to put together, as we often did on RTE before games, his showreel. It's wonderful. Wonderful precision in his passing. Wonderful support for his teammates on the ball. He was a fabulous players and I think the crowd loved him because he was reminiscent of a different era. He was a street footballer.

"He had the same kind of skillset as Lionel Messi. I'm not suggesting he was as good as Lionel Messi but the same skillset. A little wriggle of the hips and he'd lost you.

"He was a joy to watch and I can only imagine a joy to play with as well.

"Trapattoni exiled him for the whole of his period. I don't think he got much attention before that either.

"I think Trap didn't trust that he wouldn't give the ball away. The argument would be between dependability and vision and skill. Wes wasn't strong but he was brave.

"Martin O'Neill was the same. He only played him when he couldn't avoid it. In the last two games against Denmark, he really should have started both of those games because his skillset is exactly what a team needs. He's a link man."


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