'Wes's quality was there for all to see' – Canaries legend signs for Championship rivals
PUBLISHED: 17:04 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:39 14 September 2018
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Norwich City legend Wes Hoolahan has signed for West Brom on a free transfer, after persuading manager Darren Moore that his 36-year-old legs could still produce some Championship magic.
The former Republic of Ireland international scored 54 goals in 352 appearances for the Canaries between 2008 and 2018, leaving the club at the end of his contract last season.
It seemed likely the creative playmaker would head abroad but he joined the Baggies in training during the international break and has now signed a short-term deal which could be extended in January.
City have already played the Baggies at Carrow Road this season, losing 4-3 in August, but go to The Hawthorns on January 12 – so the chance of an uncomfortable reunion is still possible.
Baggies boss Moore said: “In the end, it wasn’t a difficult decision because Wes’s quality was there for all to see and he brings great experience and greater options to our group.
“We had a look at him over three or four days. He is a great pro and I think everyone knows the quality he possesses. He gives us more depth and fantastic experience.
“The agreement is short term but there is the potential for Wes to stay longer if things work out. I’m delighted to get him here.
“We’ve got seven games in 21 days in October and we are going to have to manage the squad to cope with the demands of that schedule. Every single player will be important to us.”
Hoolahan was promoted to the Premier League twice as a Canaries player and played in four top-flight campaigns – leaving the club placed 22nd in the all-time appearances list.
He won City’s player of the season award in 2017 and won 43 caps for Ireland, performing well and scoring at Euro 2016 before retiring after World Cup qualification slipped away in 2017.
“I know that when people hear about players arriving in their mid-30s they have a perception of that player being past their best,” Moore continued, speaking to West Brom’s website.
“I believe that thinking has got to change. I know what it’s like to play into my mid-30s and the areas of sports science and medicine have developed even further since my day. I can tell you these guys now in their mid-30s are in great shape and can still handle the physicality.
“I’ve got no concerns about Wes on that score. He will get even better with game time but in terms of his general fitness he has satisfied all our demands.”
Fellow Norwich legend Russell Martin has also been training with the Baggies but reports – which were accurate on Hoolahan’s imminent signing – have suggested the Scotland international defender will not be joining Moore’s squad.
Hoolahan was given an emotional farewell performance during the final home game of last season, starting and scoring in a 2-1 win over Leeds before leaving the pitch in tears.
West Brom face local rivals Birmingham in the Championship this season but there has been no suggestion Hoolahan will go straight into their squad.