Wes Hoolahan announces international retirement
PUBLISHED: 12:24 08 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:04 08 February 2018
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Norwich City’s longest-serving player Wes Hoolahan has called time on his international career with the Republic of Ireland
Hoolahan’s decision was made public on Thursday morning after the Canaries’ legend revealed he had informed Irish boss Martin O’Neill of his decision to quit last week.
The Republic missed out on the World Cup in the play-offs after a 5-1 aggregate loss to Denmark - and the 35-year-old believes the times is right.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make, to retire, but I feel it’s one I had to make and this is the right time to do it,” Hoolahan told The Herald.
“It’s a mixture of things that led me to make this decision but mainly age, I will be 36 soon, I’ll be 38 when the next Euros come around, so it’s time to move aside.
“I had a great two campaigns with Ireland and the Euros in France was an amazing experience,
“I spoke to Martin O’Neill last week and he accepted my decision. He didn’t try and talk me around, he knew my mind was made up and it was time to go.
“I’m not worried about the future, there is plenty of Irish talent out there, it looks like Martin will call up a lot of younger players in the next few months, give them a chance and see what they can do but I’d be confident about the future.”
Hoolahan won 43 caps for his country but had to wait until 2008 to make his senior debut as a second-half substitute in the 1–0 friendly win over Colombia at Craven Cottage.
O’Neill, speaking to the Republic’s official site, said it was a ‘delight’ to work with Hoolahan.
“Wes phoned me last week to let me know about retiring from international football. I remember, with great fondness, his outstanding performance and wonderful goal, against Sweden in Paris during the Euros,” he said.
“His desire to play for his country was immeasurable and he was a delight to work with over the past four years.
“Naturally, I wish Wes the very best of luck with his career at club level.”
The ex-Shelbourne player was a stand out performer in the Republic’s memorable run to the Euro 2016 knock-out stages - scoring against Sweden in the opening group game and setting up then Norwich team mate Robbie Brady for the dramatic winner to beat Italy that earned the Irish a last-16 date against hosts France.
FAI CEO John Delaney outlined plans to pay tribute to Hoolahan at a forthcoming Republic international in Dublin.
“Wes made his name in the League of Ireland with a fantastic Shelbourne side and he was always proud of that,” Delaney told the FAI site. “I think he is the perfect role model for young players aspiring to reach the top because he worked hard for everything that he got and embraced his time representing his country.
“We would like to pay tribute to Wes at the Aviva Stadium for his contribution to Irish football, at a time that suits him. Wes and his family are welcome to the Aviva Stadium at any time.”
Hoolahan is out of contract at Carrow Road at the end of this season and there has been no announcements regarding a new deal which would take him past a decade of service to the Canaries and see him potentially earn a fitting testimonial.
The Dubliner has made 23 appearances for his club this season but found starting opportunities harder to come by behind James Maddison and for a brief stint Alex Pritchard before his move to Huddersfield.