Wes Hoolahan has really made the right call and could be heading back to the Premier League
A match made in attacking, footballing heaven.
When Wes Hoolahan wound down his time with Norwich City, having already retired from international duty, he had one eye on finishing his career in foreign, sunnier climes.
Instead, after an oddly prolonged period, he is now at the Hawthorns and trying to help West Brom put together a Premier League promotion push.
The 37-year-old made his West Brom debut against Bristol City, on Tuesday night, after being signed up by Darren Moore's side late last week.
West Brom's new No.22 came on for Dwight Gayle, who had scored twice, and played the final 15 minutes of a 4-2 win over Callum O'Dowda's Bristol City. Norwich legend Darren Huckerby tweeted about how weird he found it to see Hoolahan not in a yellow and green jersey. He wasn't the only football fan thinking that as the Irish midfielder floated serenely around the Hawthorns.
"We were devastating in our finishing," Moore told the WBA site after the game.
"We were very clinical and we always looked a threat going forward. It was another four goals at The Hawthorns and we are delighted with that and long may it continue.
"To score those goals you have to put the hard yards in off the ball to create the opportunities."
The Baggies are third in The Championship but have hit their stride under Moore and are banging in the goals. They have already won 4-3, 4-2 and 7-1 this season and have won three of their last four games. An attacking threat like Hoolahan will fit in nicely there. A rake of games to go but WBA and Leeds already look best placed, and equipped, to push for automatic promotion.
It is strange that a fully fit and raring Wes Hoolahan had to wait until mid-September to play some competitive football again. Steven Gerrard was interested in getting him up to Ibrox, and in a Rangers jersey, while Joey Barton reportedly wanted him at Fleetwood Town.
Flattered by the attention, the Dubliner was not sold on either option and backed himself to get a chance in a more competitive division. There would be no swansong in Major League Soccer, nor in China's Super League, but Moore still had one condition Hoolahan had to meet before a playing contract was offered.
19 and 20 years after teenage trips to England to chance his arm at Ipswich, Leicester and Millwall, Hoolahan - one of the greatest players of his generation - was back on trial. He told The Irish Mirror:
"It’s been a long time since I had a trial but I’m really grateful to the gaffer for the opportunity he offered me to come up and spend some time here.
"And it’s is a great opportunity for me to be back in the Championship with such a strong squad."
"I still feel I have plenty to offer," he added. "I retired from international football in March with the intention of kicking on and playing as many games as possible at club level. I feel in good shape and with plenty of football in me still."
You can see where West Brom were coming from, given Hoolahan's age. We're just glad that he proved himself right, and his new manager too.