Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
A COUPLE OF clips of Wes Hoolahan inevitably don’t do full justice to what the Dubliner brought to the Irish team.
Aside from the defence-splitting passes and moments of impeccable close control, Hoolahan had that rare ability to make the whole team function better when he was on the pitch with his energy and invention, something which can only be properly conveyed by watching an entire match.
Even at 35, an age when most players are well past their prime, he made a substantial contribution for Ireland and continues to do so for Norwich, as anyone who saw his eye-catching display off the bench against Chelsea in the FA Cup recently will know.
The Boys in Green probably just missed out on Hoolahan’s very best years — it was only in his 30s that Martin O’Neill became the first Ireland manager to use the ex-Shelbourne star quite regularly.
But even in that relatively short time span, he was integral to some of the most important moments in recent Irish football history — a man-of-the-match display in the 1-0 victory over world champions Germany, the glorious pass to set up Robbie Brady’s famous winner against Italy, another defence-splitting assist to secure a seminal win away to Austria etc.
Below are seven glimpses of his brilliance…
1. This beautiful through pass during a rare appearance in the Giovanni Trapattoni era against Georgia
2. This well-taken half volley against Poland
3. Arguably his finest moment — the inch-perfect pass to assist Robbie Brady’s winner against Italy
4. Setting up a rare away competitive Irish victory in a World Cup qualifier against a highly-rated Austria side, as he laid on McClean’s winner in the 1-0 victory
5. This impeccably struck finish against Sweden at Euro 2016
6. This sublime first-time pass to set up a Shane Long goal against Moldova in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers
7. Granted, it was only against Faroe Islands, but this clip is as good an example as any of Hoolahan’s brilliant close control and awareness of the play around him
Finally, we couldn’t finish without reminding you of his best non-Ireland moment — the starring role he played in this European tie against the mighty Harchester United*…
*May not be a real football team.
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