On Friday, Irish international Jon Walters announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 35 following an Achilles injury.
Walters, who had an excellent club career with the likes of Ipswich Town and Stoke City, became one of Ireland’s most important players during his eight years as a part of the senior setup.
As the striker calls time on his tremendous career, we take a look back at some of his defining moments in the green of Ireland.
An Opportunity At 27
Despite being born in England, Walters had represented Ireland at underage level as well as playing once for the B team in 2007, but it took him until the age of 27 to win a first cap for the senior squad.
Impressing at Stoke City in the Premier League following his move from Ipswich Town, Walters was called into the Irish squad by Giovani Trappatoni and made his debut in their 2-1 defeat to Norway in November 2010.
Walters impressed many in his first 45 in green and he would go on to make 53 more appearances for the Irish side over the next eight years.
Trappatoni praised the Stoke City striker following his first international cap for the Boys in Green,
“He showed us that he can defend a ball, has good technique and is strong. He plays a different system at his club to what we play.”
Opening His Irish Account
Although Walters was not selected by Trappatoni for the majority of 2011 and their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, the striker was handed just his second cap for the Boys in Green in their crucial play-off game against Estonia.
Walters was given the nod ahead of Simon Cox and repaid Trap’s trust in him by scoring his first ever international goal in the 4-0 victory.
Robbie Keane looped the ball back into the area after Aiden McGeady’s shot had been saved by the Estonian keeper, as Walters nodded home his first of 14 goals for the Boys in Green.
From there Walters would establish himself as an important player for Ireland featuring in all three of their games at Euro 2012.
Bullying The Germans
The Euro 2016 qualifying campaign was arguably Jon Walters’ finest period in an Irish jersey, and if ever a performance summed up what the Stoke City man brought to the table it was the famous win against Germany at the Aviva.
It was Shane Long who grabbed all the headlines thanks to his goal, but Walters was immense against the world champions, acting as a battering ram as he bullied the German defence for 90 minutes, holding the ball up and getting forward as if his life depended on it.
Walters was also a defensive mountain when required and summed up everything that was great about that special Irish performance in Dublin.
His monumental display even won him plaudits in Germany with the national team’s official Twitter account wishing him well in his retirement.
Prisoners taken: 0 😅
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) March 22, 2019
Securing Ireland’s Euro 2016 Spot
Walters’ heroics and Shane Long’s goal meant that Ireland made it to the play-offs against Bosnia & Herzegovina. After missing the first leg, a 1-1 draw, the big striker returned for the second game at the Aviva.
In one of his finest displays in an Irish shirt, Walters hit both goals in Martin O’Neill’s side’s 2-0 win on home soil as they reached a European Championships for the first time in almost 30 years.
A penalty, followed by a well-taken volley from close-range saw Walters instantly become an Irish hero. Unfortunately, a niggling injury meant that the Stoke man couldn’t emulate his fantastic qualifying displays in France, as Ireland made it to the last 16.
50 Not Out
It would end up being a disappointing result in Tbilisi for Ireland but against Georgia, in September 2017 Walters won his 50th cap for the Boys in Green.
Ireland drew 1-1 but the World Cup qualifying campaign was far from a complete disaster as Martin O’Neill led his side to the playoffs only to be soundly beaten by Denmark.
For Walters to win 50 caps for Ireland was a massive achievement considering he didn’t win his first until he was 27 years of age.
A tremendous servant to the country, injury would rob him of a proper send-off as he managed just four more caps following his 50th, the last of which coming in the 4-1 Nations League defeat to Wales.
A true Irish hero.