Thursday 12 December 2019

Whelan the unsung hero in nightmare

Dan Mc

THE unsung hero of the Premier League weekend was Irish, lost in the blaze of publicity surrounding broken handshakes and broken legs. When all around were losing their heads, Glenn Whelan kept his.

It was the Dubliner who responded quickest when Arsenal's young Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey suffered that sickening injury -- a double break of his leg -- after a clash with Stoke's Ryan Shawcross.

While his teenage opponent wailed in agony, and horrified Arsenal players either raged at the referee or averted their eyes through squeamishness, Whelan dived to the ground to comfort the talented star.

Rightly, he decided that he should protect Ramsey from seeing his leg dangling, for fear that he might pass out or even swallow his tongue. Until the medical team arrived, the Irish international tried his best to speak reassuring words and even roused Nicklas Bendtner into action as support for that mission.

"I was trying my best to take his mind off it, telling him not to think about it or to look at it," reflected Whelan, speaking ahead of tonight's friendly meeting with Brazil at the Emirates Stadium.

"He knew straight away how bad it was, though. He just kept saying 'my leg, my leg'. I went there because I was closest to him. I had to. He held onto me with the pain he was going through. I think he went into a state of shock when it happened, so I was just trying to do what I could."

Whelan has defended his team-mate Shawcross, reasoning that the replays prove there was no malicious intent. "A hard tackle, but not a dirty tackle," he argued.

In time, he believes that Arsene Wenger will come around to see that point of view. "The two lads could go into a tackle like that 100 times again, and nobody would come off injured."

Nevertheless, the ex-Man City youth believes that Sky Sports were justified in not replaying the incident in the immediate aftermath, even though it may have exonerated Shawcross in some people's eyes.

"Well, I haven't seen it again and if I had a chance to see it, I'd turn the telly off," he said. "There's young people who couldn't stomach it.

"The Premier League and the two clubs need to sit down and watch it again. I think that's ok, but I think Sky were right not showing it because it can make people queasy. Of course, it's a contact sport and these things happen. Thankfully they don't happen too often.

"It's the first time that I had ever experienced anything like that and, touch wood, I hope I never have to see anything like that again. First and foremost, I just hope that the young lad (Ramsey) gets back as soon as possible."

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