Ireland midfielder Glenn Whelan has opened up on his release from Aston Villa outlining that he was not surprised by the club’s decision to let him go following their promotion to the Premier League.
Whelan was one of Villa’s standout performers this campaign, playing in 35 games as their late season form pushed them into the playoffs, where they defeated West Brom and Derby County respectively.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Whelan outlined that his release didn’t come as a shock to him but was keen to express his pride at the two seasons he spent at Villa Park, calling their return to the top flight “mission complete.”
“It was a great occasion,” began Whelan.
“I had two years at Aston Villa to get them back in the Premier League. For me it’s mission complete. To be released wasn’t a surprise at this stage of my career and where the club wants to go. I’m very pleased with what I’ve achieved over the last two seasons.”
Whelan was one of eight players released by the club following their promotion and explained that the only thing that disappointed him was the way in which he found out, following a few days away with his family.
“We had quite a few lads who were out of contract but getting to the playoffs and then getting to the final nobody really wanted to talk about it.
“The only disappointment for me was that I went away on the Tuesday with my family and I had two missed calls when I arrived home, one from a journalist saying I’d been released, the other from the manager who said he wanted to speak to me, so from that point of view it’s disappointing but it’s something I had expected to be honest.”
The 35-year old however cleared up the confusion about how he heard the news explaining that his busy schedule between time with his family and meeting up with the Irish squad meant that a face to face meeting with manager Dean Smith was almost impossible.
Whelan also wished his former club all the best in the Premier League explaining that he holds no animosity towards Smith and Aston Villa.
“I knew it couldn’t be face to face because of, obviously, three or four days after we were meeting up here I wanted to spend some time with my family.
“We spoke on the phone and congratulated each other, wished each other the best. There was no hard feelings, I’m in the game too long to hold grudges. I wish Aston Villa all the best.”
As far as next season is concerned, Whelan outlined that he was simply concentrating on the task at hand, the game against Denmark, but explained that he has had no offers on the table so far.
He joked however that one of European football’s biggest clubs were interested in his signature.
“I just had Real Madrid on the phone there.”
The midfielder was one of Ireland’s standout players in the victory against Georgia and with the way in which McCarthy likes to play, it’s likely that he will again start in the holding role ahead of the defence, which may entail doing a job on Tottenham star Christian Eriksen.
So how does Whelan feel about the challenge Eriksen and Denmark possess?
“One of the manager’s reasons for bringing me back was for games like this against a number ten that you have to wary of. I’m confident I can make an impact.”