Wes Hoolahan proving himself as Norwich City’s renaissance man – again
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2008
Wes Hoolahan is once again proving his reputation as Norwich City's renaissance man.
The diminutive Irishman has had his fair share of ups and downs during his seven seasons with the Canaries – but is currently ensuring his name will remain in the club's record books for a long time.
Hoolahan has now made 243 appearances for City, moving him level in 42nd place in the club's list of all-time appearance makers alongside Noel Kinsey (1947-53) and Colin Suggett (1973-78).
With seven games of the season left, the 32-year-old is on course to hit the landmark of 250 appearances, should he feature in all those games.
That would really begin to move Hoolahan into the upper echelons of City's record books. He would be tied in 36th with Bobby Brennan (1953-60) and Denis Morgan (1946-56), and ahead of one of City's Uefa Cup heroes, Rob Newman, who finished with 249 appearances.
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The Republic of Ireland midfielder has re-emerged as a key player for the Canaries once again this season – a trick he has pulled off before.
Glenn Roeder signed the attacker from Blackpool in 2008 after releasing Darren Huckerby.
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Hoolahan could not prevent City's drop into League One at the end of the 2008/09 season and soon his time in Norfolk looked to be coming to an end, after new boss Paul Lambert announced that the Dublin-born ace could search for a new club.
He knuckled down and was soon changing Lambert's mind though, scoring 14 goals in 42 games to help the Canaries to the League One title.
His influence remained while Lambert was in charge, with 10 goals in 42 appearances as promotion to the Premier League was secured.
City then secured survival in the top flight in their first season, with Hoolahan still integral to their play under Lambert.
The midfielder remained a key man during Chris Hughton's first season in charge but last season his bit-part role led to speculation that Hoolahan wanted to join Aston Villa.
City insisted they did not want to sell and after six weeks out of the team, Hoolahan returned and tried, unsuccessfully, to drag Hughton's team away from relegation danger.
His long-term future remained in doubt but another resurgence was in the offing, with a new contract tying him to the club until 2016 announced after Neil Adams was appointed.
After regular action at the start of this season, Hoolahan picked up an ankle injury in mid-October and had to settle for a substitutes' role on his return two months later.
But with Alex Neil replacing Adams in early January, Hoolahan has once again started to rediscover his magic touch – with three goals in City's last four games.
Hoolahan has come to the fore once more at Carrow Road and should he hit that 250-mark this season, he will be closing in on some of the club's most famous names.
Sandy Kennon (255), Dave Watson (256) and Dale Gordon (261) and a place in the club's all-time top 30 would all be within reach if Hoolahan can continue his role as City's renaissance man.