Football

Glenn Whelan Reveals Impact Of Dunphy's 'Ferrari' Criticism

Glenn Whelan Reveals Impact Of Dunphy's 'Ferrari' Criticism

Ahead of what will be his 85th and final cap for Ireland tonight, Glenn Whelan was persuaded to break a seven-year habit and appear at a press conference.

Well, we say persuaded....

The manager asked me to do it because of what's going to happen tomorrow. In that case, I'll come and speak and answer questions. But like I said, it's not something that I need or particularly like doing. If needs be, I'll go and do it. I don't think I had a choice today.

Whelan's absence from the glare of the media spotlight in recent years has been a reaction to some of the criticism he faced, and is among a host of Irish players who can add the suffix '-most infamously from Eamon Dunphy' to the end of that sentence. Dunphy said of Whelan that "he's a terrible player. He can't run, he can't pass, he can't tackle, he doesn't see anything. He drives two Ferraris; I think he's a very lucky lad to have 50 caps for Ireland".

"I didn't take it personally", recalled Whelan yesterday.

I moved away to play football when I was 15. Everyone loves the limelight when they're raving about you.

There's definitely another side to it. For me, there was a certain stage where it got a little bit personal. That's when I stepped away from it [the media]. I've got two kids. I've got an older girl. So just for me personally, [I was] stepping away from it and letting everyone else speak. When I come in, I only want to impress the manager, Roy, and my team-mates.

I'm a footballer but I'm a normal person away from the pitch. But like I said, certain stuff did get a little bit personal. I think my background was brought up and there was a thing written about a car I was driving, which was mentioned.

And I definitely didn't drive that car.

O'Neill, as per, tried to leaven it all with a sense of humour, saying that "if your wife had been the manager, you might have had a hundred caps". Whelan laughed that he wasn't so sure.

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Whelan will have to settle for 85, as tonight will be the last we see of him and his prodigious pointing in an Ireland shirt. He and his son will lead Ireland onto the field, although it became clear from his press conference that the decision to end it all has been made by Martin O'Neill.

The retirement thing, [at] international [level], it's never something that I'll do. I never picked when to come and play for Ireland and I'll certainly never pick when I don't want to play. I've spoken to the manager, he knows if anything ever happens down the line, I will be available.

The manager is trying to bed new lads in. That's the way Ireland is going. These lads have waited a long time to get some games under their belt...

..Retirement [as something you] put down on paper [I won't do], but I know tomorrow is probably going to be the last time I'll play for my country.

Whelan is similar to many of his teammates in having a couple of disagreements with his manager, although one of them wasn't over his being dropped for the Italy game at Euro 2016.

"Glenn was obviously disappointed [not to play against Italy]", said O'Neill. "The reason was he'd played against Belgium a couple of days before and we just needed an extra bit of energy in the side, a bit of change. He'd played two extra games and done well against Sweden the previous time. We got a bit overrun against Belgium in the second half when we conceded the first goal. We had to play catch-up. Naturally, he'd be disappointed, but he took it brilliantly, and he's played for me since. So no real problems with that. The reason I got the better of him in training sessions is I had Seamus McDonagh behind me, he's an exceptionally big man".

When it came to reflecting on his Irish career, Whelan began with his first cap against Serbia and then looked to the future.

To get one [cap], it was obviously a great achievement for myself. I never thought I would get 85. If you speak to any player that comes in, it's a massive achievement to get international football. Serbia was the first game. I've been lucky to play in some good games and against top teams.

I'm going to treat [tonight] like any other game. Speaking to the lads at training today: don't worry about me. It's about getting the right performance and the right result. Other stuff like that will happen.

It's been difficult, the results haven't been right but you can see with the players who have come in, there's lads with a lot of experience who have dropped out.

It takes a bit of time. I can see what the manager is trying to do. It's not going to sort itself out overnight.

Results have been a little bit difficult but when have Ireland ever made it easy?

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So what happens next? Whelan doesn't plan on retiring from football anytime soon, and has taken some coaching badges. In spite of his media shyness, he isn't ruling out a spot of punditry either.

Never say 'no' to anything. There are a few people out there that are doing okay and I think I might be a little bit better than them, but that's my opinion. I've done my badges. I still see myself as a player.

Anything can happen in future, but it's definitely something that I wouldn't turn down.

See Also: Opinion: Cut Martin O'Neill Some Slack Over Michael Obafemi Issue

See Also: Former Irish Underage Player Michael Keane Advises Declan Rice On England Decision

 

 

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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