Paul McGrath on his Irish teammate who would shine in the modern Premier League
"He'd probably prefer to be playing in this era."
Paul McGrath was arguably the best Irish player of his generation, and he played alongside some of the finest players to ever represent the Republic of Ireland.
The former Manchester United defender lined out for the Boys in Green alongside elite footballers such as Liam Brady and Mark Lawrenson, Ronnie Whelan and David O'Leary, Denis Irwin and Roy Keane.
McGrath has said that out of all the Irish footballers he played alongside, Whelan would be most suited to the modern game and, at his peak, he would excel in the current Premier League.
Paul McGrath: Ronnie Whelan would excel in the Premier League.
Whelan played almost 500 times for Liverpool and was a key player during their golden period of dominance in the 1980s. The Dubliner was part of the Reds team which won six First Division titles, three FA Cups, three League Cups and the European Cup.
Whelan was a technically gifted midfielder with an eye for goal and a killer pass.
The midfielder's former teammate believes that Whelan in his prime would be perfectly suited to the demands of the Premier League in the 2021/22 season.
"I would put Ronnie Whelan in there," McGrath told SportsJOE.
"I think he'd hold his own. He'd probably prefer to be playing in this era. I think, not too many more, to be honest.
"Ronnie Whelan could take the ball anywhere. I remember I was sprinting to get the ball off Ronnie one time in an Irish game, and he actually pinged the ball about nine yards off the ground.
"I just kept sprinting. I had to reach out and at the last minute and the ball just hit my foot - I never broke stride.
"I just thought, 'How does he pass the ball like that?' I was actually thinking this as I was supposed to be controlling the ball and going on.
"So, he was that good a footballer. And I've seen him do it to loads of other people as well. He could ping a ball and know exactly where it was going. He was one of the best."
Where does Ronnie Whelan's acrobatic masterpiece rank in the all-time great Euros goals? 🍀pic.twitter.com/vZCxcxeyHg
— FourFourTwo (@FourFourTwo) June 30, 2021
McGrath: Liam Brady and Roy Keane were the best Irish footballers I played alongside.
McGrath said that Liam Brady and Roy Keane were the best Irish footballers he played alongside during his career.
The former defender, 62, however, believes that the speed of the modern Premier League may be a "little bit too quick" for Brady.
The RTÉ pundit was a creative midfielder and a star for Arsenal before excelling in Italy with Juventus, Inter Milan and Sampdoria.
McGrath also highly rates former Ireland captain Frank Stapleton.
Yet, he believes that the former Arsenal and Manchester United striker's main attributes may not be suited in an era of false-nines, lone strikers and fewer target men.
"Frank always ran his heart out and gave his best," he said.
"But again, you would have to play an actual centre forward and Frank worked at his game so hard that he would be able to score goals. I don't think people would cross the ball into the box for him to score those goals."
McGrath: Kevin Moran helped me when I joined Man United.
McGrath also had a kind word for Kevin Moran, his former Ireland and Manchester United teammate.
The former Ireland defender signed for the Red Devils from St Patrick's Athletic in 1982 and excelled in English football. The Dubliner helped Man United win the 1985 FA Cup before signing for Aston Villa, where he won PFA Player of the Year for his performances for Villa in the 1992/92 season - one of only six defenders in history to win the prestigious award.
However, McGrath that said when he arrived in Manchester, he was still very green and Moran helped him settle by guiding him through games early in his career.
"Kevin Moran could've dealt with anything. For one man, he was some man!" he said.
"The thing I loved about Kevin was that he always kept talking to everyone he played alongside - probably except Mick (McCarthy), because would've been telling him what to do.
"I had said it to Jack about four months before the World Cup...
"Ronnie Whelan was laughing at me in training. I was saying, 'This isn't funny!' I was really getting worked up about it" 🇮🇪 🇮🇹 https://t.co/9oXUF02iKE
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) December 22, 2021
"Kevin was one of those players who always wanted to communicate to you where to run. Because I hadn't got a clue when I first went over to Manchester United, I hadn't got a clue what I was doing.
"And he would actually talk you through the game while trying to play his own game if you can believe that? Which was a lovely gesture from a fabulous Gaelic player and a fabulous soccer player."
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