Championship clubs would be foolish not to go after Wes Hoolahan 3 years ago

Championship clubs would be foolish not to go after Wes Hoolahan

A fine way to bow out.

Ten years after joining Norwich City, Wes Hoolahan played his final game at Carrow Road on Saturday.

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Having announced earlier this week that he will leave the club after 350 appearances, there was a sombre atmosphere at the stadium on the banks of the River Wensum for Wes' farewell game.

Sombre because the club and its supporters are well aware that they are losing one of their best ever players and because the nagging suspicion is there that this man still has so much more to give.

That nagging suspicion is still there because it rings true. There is still so much left in the tank of Wesley Hoolahan, the street footballer born and bred in Dublin.

And he proved exactly that on a sunny Saturday afternoon when he inspired Daniel Farke's side to a 2-1 victory over Leeds United.

Putting the emotion of the occasion to one side, Hoolahan was on song from the word go on the patch that he has made hay on countless occasions over the past few years.

And there were plenty of distractions. Both sides created a guard of honour for the former Shelbourne player before the game.

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This came after all of his teammates delivered a touching tribute to him prior to kick off, led by Grant Holt, who's affection for Wes was clear for all to see.

But as he has done so often in the past, Norwich city's artful schemer plotted his way through the game with all the style, grace and patience of a man who has the ability to freeze time when the ball is at his feet.

With his side trailing by a goal on the stroke of half time, Hoolahan stood up and was counted. He made a run from deep and took the long-range shot on. A deflection helped it past a helpless Leeds United 'keeper but probing and threatening is the name of Hoolahan's game and fortune only favours the brave.

The Dubliner would go onto turn provider for the match-winning goal, scored by Josh Murphy. It was far from being caught up in the emotion of it all the 35-year-old was.

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Clearly buzzing after the match, it was a true measure of this man's character that his focus prior to the game wasn't on himself or the send-off, but instead on securing the victory for his side. That's the type of character Hoolahan is and he walked the walk on the field of play with his contribution turning the tie in his team's favour.

Well known for his quiet, unassuming nature, the man who's never too comfortable in the limelight doesn't do too many interviews. Quiet leaders are often the most effective, though, and the message he gave his men prior to kick-off is a testament to his own professionalism.

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"I said to the boys in the huddle, 'it doesn't count if we don't win the game.'"

But it shouldn't be over yet.

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Hoolahan is 35 but he's a young 35-year-old.

We're all well aware that he was safeguarded from burnout via international football anyway. It's one of our country's great shames that our most talented footballer would only earn 43 caps on the international stage. For God's sake it wasn't until he was 25 that his talent was finally spotted and he would make his international bow.

But there are some reasons behind his delayed introduction to the international scene. He admitted himself that the early days of his career weren't as hectic as others with the same levels of talent as him would have been.

Wes only made his move to England when he was 24. When he should have been in his prime in and around the 2009/2010 season, Hoolahan was playing in League One.

Wes may have retired from the International scene but that should be even more of a reason for the Championship clubs to come calling.

He hasn't suffered too many injuries and always keeps himself in good nick. There's life in the old dog yet.