Eamon Dunphy, one of Wes Hoolahan’s biggest supporters, has paid tribute to the Norwich man on his international retirement, praising him as having ”the same skill-set as Messi” and also, criticising Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O’Neill for not giving him more of a chance for Ireland.
Dunphy believes that Hoolahan should have started the World Cup play off-matches against Denmark as the man known for his creativity retired after winning 43 international caps.
Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio One this morning, Dunphy said:
“I loved how clever he was. How brave he was to get on the ball in difficult situations and he had the guile and vision to open up defenses.
“If you remember that great moment when Ireland beat Italy in the Euros. He was involved with Robbie Brady and it was classic Wes. He had the ball. A pinpoint pass from 40 yards and Robbie headed the goal and we were through to the knock-out stages to play France.
“That was one moment but if you were to put together, as we often did on RTE before games, his showreel. It’s wonderful. Wonderful precision in his passing. Wonderful support for his teammates on the ball. He was a fabulous players and I think the crowd loved him because he was reminiscent of a different era. He was a street footballer.
“He had the same kind of skill-set as Lionel Messi. I’m not suggesting he was as good as Lionel Messi but the same skill-set. A little wriggle of the hips and he’d lost you.
“He was a joy to watch and I can only imagine a joy to play with as well”
Dunphy then criticised former Irish manager Trapattoni and current manager Martin O’Neill on why Hoolahan should have gotten more game time and explained why they mightn’t have wanted to play him.
“I think Trap didn’t trust that he wouldn’t give the ball away. The argument would be between dependability and vision and skill. Wes wasn’t strong but he was brave.
“Martin O’Neill was the same. He only played him when he couldn’t avoid it. In the last two games against Denmark, he really should have started both of those games because his skill-set is exactly what a team needs. He’s a link man.”
The Norwich midfielder announced his retirement from international football in an exclusive interview with Aidan Fitzmaurice in The Herald.
He explained that he would be 38 by the time the next European Championships came around and felt the time was right to depart from playing with Ireland Ireland.
There were many highlights in the 35-year-old’s career in a green jersey but his exploits at Euro 2016 where he scored in the 1-1 draw with Sweden and assisted Robbie Brady’s famous winner against Italy will be cherished memories for Ireland fans.