Something beautiful happened this past weekend. The Wes Hoolahan chant rang out around Carrow Road, and with good reason.
One of those moments when time stands still as a footballer outwits his opponent, or in this case, three of them, with something you'd expect from a ballet dancer... And it was Wes fecking Hoolahan that did it.
Hoolahan has become a figure that represents the beautiful game for Irish football fans. If he's not in the team, any failings will be blamed on his absence, and on the rare occasion that he doesn't play well it's the other players' fault for not giving him any options. And he's earned that status. Through little moments of magic, quick-feet by the touchline, the type of stuff that doesn't even make the match highlights but gives the fans in the stadium or watching at home that brief moment of wonder, Ireland fans have really taken to the pint-sized playmaker.
Thankfully, the love he gets is not limited to his time on international duty, like many Irish players in the past. No, it's quite clear that Norwich City supporters love Wesso just as much as we do.
Absolute pleasure watching Wes Hoolahan at work, 4 foot and nobody can get near him #NcfcGreat
— Darren Huckerby (@hucks6dh6) October 15, 2016
If Wes Hoolahan was 24 and not 34 and playing as well as he is, he'd be a £50m player. Late developer.
— Dan O'Hagan (@danohagan) October 15, 2016
Can we get a statue of Hoolahan outside the club shop when the little magician hangs up his boots? @NorwichCityFC #ncfc
— Liam Shaw (@BeyondBelieeef) October 15, 2016
In a rare interview with Norwich publication The Pink Un, Michael Baily described Wes as a a true Norwich City great, something that was echoed by fans of the club in the comment sections across social media where that moment of genius was posted, and what is said is fully meant.
His longevity at Norwich comes down largely to his loyalty. The Carnaries yo-yo style relationship with top-flight football would have presented Hoolahan with a number of opportunities to leave, but instead he opted to stay where he is, at a club that he feels a connection to, and as a result is enjoying the best football of his career at 34.
That's according to the man himself, as he explained that he is taking every game as it comes and enjoying every moment.
Yeah, I’m enjoying my football more than ever, as you get older you appreciate it a lot more. It’s not often at the age of 34, you’re enjoying yourself playing football and I think every game now you just enjoy as much as you can.
When I was 18, 19, thinking about being 34 and still playing at the top level, I’d have loved it. I’m very lucky. I’m doing as much as I can to preserve it. It’s your career. You’ve got to look after yourself. You don’t know when you’re going to retire. But being 34 you want to enjoy every moment that you can and keep it going as long as you want to.
And he's showing no signs of slowing down.
Thankfully, he remains an important part of the Irish squad, and while maybe there needs to be some consideration as to the management of his workload, we'll most likely have him until the end of the World Cup 2018 campaign.
For now, let's just appreciate the man for what he is. A good guy, and a damn fine footballer.
The Irish Messi - Wes Hoolahan #ncfc pic.twitter.com/KraHeQRHf7
The Irish Messi - Wes Hoolahan #ncfc pic.twitter.com/KraHeQRHf7October 15, 2016 " target="_blank">[featured image via @jackholmes]