Paul McGrath was full of praise for Glenn Whelan over Instagram, saying the Aston Villa midfielder has “done Ireland proud” ahead of making his farewell appearance against Northern Ireland on Thursday evening. Whelan picked up his 85th and likely final cap for the Republic of Ireland, as Martin O’Neill’s men played out a goalless draw at the Aviva Stadium, and McGrath paid tribute to the experienced midfielder for his service to his country.
He said (h/t HITC): “Best of luck (Glenn Whelan). A consummate professional, these are the sorts of players we need coming through now. You (sic) done Ireland proud kid. I hope (Mrs Whelan, Abbie Whelan) and the main man Jack enjoy tonight #proud”. Whelan made his Ireland debut under Giovanni Trapattoni in 2008. He was 24 years of age at the time. In the 10 years that followed, the Villa midfielder played under three managers on the international stage – Trapattoni, Noel King and Martin O’Neill.
At club level, the 34-year-old has made over 40 appearances in all competitions since joining from Stoke City in 2017. Whelan is still getting game time under Dean Smith but his time at Villa may be up at the end of the season. His contract expires next summer and it’s hard to see the Midlands club extending his deal given Whelan’s advancing age. With Birkir Bjarnason, Mile Jedinak and John McGinn all providing competition in midfield, Whelan has to be patient for opportunities.