‘I loved it. Loved every minute’ - No regrets for Wes Hoolahan after Irish exit

Norwich City's Wes Hoolahan starred at Euro 2016 for the Republic of Ireland. Picture: PA

Norwich City's Wes Hoolahan starred at Euro 2016 for the Republic of Ireland. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Wes Hoolahan insists he had no regrets calling time on his Republic of Ireland career.

The 35-year-old can now focus on club matters following his international retirement after earning 43 caps.

Hoolahan admitted it was a dream to pull on the Irish shirt, with his starring role at Euro 2016 the highlight of a nine-year spell.

'It was an honour to play for my country, I have great memories and they will last forever,' he said.

'I grew up dreaming of playing for my country, and when that dream came true for me it was a great honour.

'He (Martin O'Neill) said I never let myself or the team down, and he wished me well.

'I was delighted when Martin got the Ireland job, he picked me, and his record speaks for itself in terms of the number of times he picked me, I think I am the third most-capped player under Martin.

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'I always said to myself, 'I would love to play for my country, even once, to see what it's like and always have that on my record', so to get as many caps as I did, I can feel very happy about that.'

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Hoolahan was 26 before he earned his Republic debut in 2008, but the City midfielder knew his time would come if he continued to impress for the Canaries in City's march to the Premier League under Paul Lambert.

'At times I thought I wouldn't get the chance to play but you get your head down, work away with your club and hope that it comes around for you,' he said, speaking to the Irish Independent.

'I don't feel frustrated that I won the number of caps I did, or that the Ireland thing came late in my career.

'I loved it, loved every minute of it, every time I was called up it was an honour and I was honoured to get to 43 caps,

'I am very happy with that

'People have asked me if scoring against Sweden in Paris at the Euros was the highlight but, being honest, it was a bigger buzz to see Robbie Brady score the winner against Italy.

'That meant so much, it got us to the knockout stage, out of a group of death, and the celebrations that night in Lille were more important than my goal against Sweden.'