Ronnie Whelan

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For Ronnie Whelan Jr.'s father, see Ronnie Whelan, Sr..
Ronnie Whelan
Whelan, Ronnie.jpg
Whelan in 2013
Personal information
Full name Ronald Andrew Whelan
Date of birth (1961-09-25) 25 September 1961 (age 53)
Place of birth Dublin, Ireland
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
Home Farm
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1977–1979 Home Farm 45 (7)
1979–1994 Liverpool 362 (46)
1994–1996 Southend United 34 (1)
National team
1979 League of Ireland XI 1 (1)
1981–1995 Republic of Ireland 53 (3)
1994 Republic of Ireland B 1 (0)
1981 Republic of Ireland U21 1 (0)
Teams managed
1995–1997 Southend United
1998–1999 Panionios
2000–2002 Olympiakos Nicosia
2002 Apollon Limassol
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Ronald Andrew "Ronnie" Whelan (/ˈrɒn ˈhwlən/; born 25 September 1961 in Dublin) is a former Irish association football midfielder, and sometimes defender, who was an integral part of the dominant Liverpool side of the 1980s. He was at the club from 1979 until 1994. In 100 Players Who Shook The Kop, a poll of 110,000 Liverpool fans conducted by the official Liverpool Football Club web-site, Whelan was in 30th position.

Whelan finished his career at Southend United, where he was also player-manager. He has also managed in Greece and Cyprus, with Panionios, Olympiakos Nicosia and Apollon Limassol.

Whelan played for the Republic of Ireland national football team at one UEFA European Football Championship (1988) and two World Cups (1990 and 1994), turning out a total of 53 times for the national side between 1981 and 1995.

Since retirement he has begun a media career, and is a regular contributor to RTÉ Sport in Ireland.

Early life[edit]

Whelan was born into a family of footballers from Dublin, Ireland; his father, Ronnie Whelan, Sr., was an Irish international and a key member of the successful St Patrick's Athletic side of the late 1950s and early 1960s. His brother Paul Whelan played for Bohemian FC and Shamrock Rovers.

Ronnie was a skilful and industrious midfield player, who made his League of Ireland debut for Home Farm on his 16th birthday at Tolka Park.[1]

Whelan scored for a League of Ireland XI against the Basque Country at the San Mamés in August 1979 [2]

Liverpool[edit]

Whelan was signed for Liverpool by Bob Paisley for a bargain £35,000[3] on 19 September 1979, a few days before his 18th birthday and made his debut 18 months later, on 3 April 1981, scoring his first goal in the 27th minute of the 3–0 league win over Stoke City at Anfield. This would be Whelan's one and only appearance of the season for the first team, as Whelan spent much of his first few months at the club in the reserves.

The following season Whelan won his place on the left side of the Liverpool midfield, ending the Anfield career of Ray Kennedy and also taking over his No.5 shirt. It was an excellent season for Whelan, as he settled into first team football and helped Liverpool to another League championship. They also retained the League Cup with victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, with Whelan scoring twice[4] in the 3–1 win.

In 1983, Liverpool retained these two trophies and Whelan again scored in the League Cup final, scoring with a long-range shot into the Manchester United net in extra-time to seal a 2–1 win. Whelan then played a major role in Liverpool's treble of League title, League Cup and European Cup of 1984, although he was injured for part of this season.

Liverpool's trophyless season in 1985, culminating in the disaster at Heysel, was followed by a much more successful season for Whelan and Liverpool, under the new management of Kenny Dalglish.

Liverpool clinched another League title and added the FA Cup, with Whelan setting up two of the goals in a 3–1 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton, the first time the two had met in an FA Cup final, also it was only the third League and FA Cup "double" of the 20th century. Whelan put in some fine performances in the league as well, most notably a hat-trick in the 5–0 home win over Coventry City on 12 April 1986.[5]

Liverpool ended the following season trophyless, losing the League Cup final to Arsenal and coming second to Everton in the league. The following year, Whelan switched to a central role following the arrival of England winger John Barnes at Anfield, supplementing the new strike partnership of Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge. This season saw Liverpool play an exciting brand of football and they won the league title with just two defeats all season. They also reached the final of the FA Cup, although Whelan missed out on the cup final as Nigel Spackman, who had won his place in the team when Whelan was injured earlier in the season was chosen ahead of him. Whelan's name and profile was even left out of the official match programme at Wembley for the FA Cup final against Wimbledon, which favourites Liverpool lost 1–0 to a team who had just completed only their second season in the First Division and their 11th in the Football League.

An injury to club captain Alan Hansen meant that Whelan spent much of the 1988–89 season as captain of Liverpool, a role he relished as the club progressed to another challenge for a "double". Then the Hillsborough disaster happened, and Whelan played a key role in leading the team on and off the pitch in a difficult time.

When Hansen recovered, Whelan maintained the captaincy for continuity purposes and it was he who lifted the FA Cup after a 3–2 win over derby rivals Everton. However, he missed the chance to do the same with the League title, with Arsenal taking the championship thanks to a last-minute goal from Michael Thomas on the final day of the season on goal difference. This meant that for the second year running Liverpool narrowly missed out on a unique second double.

Liverpool won the League again in 1990 but Whelan's role in the side was diminishing, through a spate of injuries. He stayed at Liverpool until 1994 but an example of his bad luck came in 1992 when he scored the crucial equaliser against Portsmouth in the FA Cup semi-final, forcing a replay which Liverpool won on penalties, but missed the final against Sunderland, in which Liverpool triumphed 2–0, because of injury - the second time in five seasons he had missed a cup final. By this stage, Liverpool were no longer quite the dominant force they had been in their heyday of the 1980s. They had finished second to Arsenal in the league in 1991, and despite the FA Cup win and UEFA Cup quarter-final appearance in 1992 they finished sixth in the league – failing to make a real impact in the title race for the first time since Bill Shankly had still been manager. The league that season was won by a Leeds United side, while runners-up Manchester United were in the first stages of ending Liverpool's generation-long dominance of the English league.

One of Whelan's more forgettable moments came in 1990 when, in a match at Old Trafford, an unmarked Whelan chipped a backpass from 30 yards over goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar and into the net. To date, it is considered to be one of the most bizarre and comical own goals in top flight history.[3] However, Liverpool still won the match 2–1.

Manager Graeme Souness gave Whelan more first team opportunities in the new FA Premier League for the 1992–93 season, and he made 17 appearances (scoring once) as Liverpool finished sixth once again, but this came at the end of a season which had mostly been spent in the bottom half of the table and they stood 15th as late as early March. By this stage, however, Whelan's days in the Liverpool first team were looking numbered, as the midfield was now featuring recent signings like Mark Walters and Michael Thomas, as well as breakthrough stars Steve McManaman and Jamie Redknapp.

In 1993–94, Whelan made more appearances than he had done in any of the previous three seasons – 23 in the Premier League, scoring once.[6] It was a disappointing season for the club, unfortunately, as they finished eighth in the Premier League and suffered a shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Bristol City, which had prompted Graeme Souness to resign as manager and be replaced by Roy Evans, who decided at the end of the season not to offer Whelan a new contract.

In all, Whelan played 493 first team games for Liverpool, scoring 73 goals. He scored in fourteen consecutive seasons.

He won six League title medals, three FA Cups, a European Cup and three Milk Cup medals in his time with the club.

International career[edit]

By the age of 20 Whelan had represented the Republic of Ireland national football team at schoolboy, youth, amateur, U21 and senior level.

Whelan first represented his country at schoolboy level.[7]

Whelan was a regular for the Republic of Ireland, making his debut on 29 April 1981 when he came off the bench in the 63rd minute of the 3–1 victory over Czechoslovakia at Lansdowne Road.

Whelan was part of the Irish side which qualified for the UEFA European Football Championship of 1988 in West Germany. He was in the team which memorably beat England 1–0, and he then scored a spectacular long-range goal in a draw with the USSR. Defeat in the final group game, against eventual champions Netherlands, eliminated Ireland from the competition.

Managerial career[edit]

On his departure from Anfield in 1994 after 15 years, Whelan signed for Southend United and became their player-manager a year later, before being sacked at the end of the 1996–97 season following their relegation from Division One.

He later worked with clubs in Greece such as Panionios and in Cyprus such as Apollon Limassol but most notably with Olympiakos Nicosia. His greatest success as a manager, was with Panionios in 1999, when his team reached for first time the quarter finals of a European competition, the Cup Winners Cup, when they were eliminated by eventual champions SS Lazio with 0–4 and 0–3.

Media career[edit]

Whelan now works on the after-dinner circuit and does a spot of punditry.

Whelan features regularly on RTÉ Sport's association football programming, including its Premier League and UEFA Champions League coverage. He is notable for his pronunciation of Germany and Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger's name. He contributed to RTÉ Sport's coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[8][9] He was also part of RTÉ Sport's studio coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[10]

Charity[edit]

Ronnie Whelan is Patron of the Myasthenia Gravis Association in Ireland where he is an active fundraiser and works to raise awareness for this rare autoimmune disease.

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

[11]

Club Season League League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1977–78 Home Farm League of Ireland - - - - - - - - - - - -
1978–79 - - - - - - - - - - - -
1979–80 Liverpool First Division 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1980–81 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
1981–82 32 10 3 0 8 3 4 1 47 14
1982–83 28 2 1 0 6 2 5 3 1 0 41 7
1983–84 23 4 1 0 5 3 5 2 34 9
1984–85 37 7 7 4 3 1 9 0 3 0 59 12
1985–86 39 10 7 1 7 3 4 0 57 14
1986–87 39 3 3 0 8 2 3 0 53 5
1987–88 28 1 2 0 3 0 - - 33 1
1988–89 37 4 5 0 6 0 3 0 51 4
1989–90 34 1 8 1 3 0 1 0 46 2
1990–91 14 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 17 1
1991–92 10 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 13 1
1992–93 Premier League 17 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 18 1
1993–94 23 1 0 0 0 0 23 1
1994–95 Southend First Division 33 1 - - - - - - 33 1
1995–96 1 0 - - - - - - 1 0
Career total (England) 396 47 41 7 50 14 23 6 17 0 527 74

* Other – Charity Shield, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup & Super Cup ScreenSport

International[edit]

[12]

Republic of Ireland national team
Year Apps Goals
1981 3 0
1982 1 0
1983 2 0
1984 3 0
1985 6 0
1986 2 0
1987 7 1
1988 6 1
1989 7 1
1990 4 0
1991 0 0
1992 2 0
1993 4 0
1994 4 0
1995 2 0
Total 53 3

Honours[edit]

Liverpool

Europa League 2010–11[edit]

Ronnie Whelan was the Ambassador for the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League. He took part in the group stage draw on 27 August 2010.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "unknown". The Irish Times. (subscription required)
  2. ^ The Irish Times http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/1979/0817/Pg003.html#Ar00308.html |url= missing title (help). 
  3. ^ a b Speed, Ste (12 October 2007). "Ex-Red: Ronnie Whelan". This is Anfield. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Ronnie Whelan". Liverpool FC. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "All time playing records, 1985–86". Liverweb. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Football Heroes: Ronnie Whelan". sporting-heroes.net. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "unknown". The Irish Times. (subscription required)
  8. ^ Black, Fergus (2 June 2010). "RTÉ hopes Ossie and squad will spur fans to back home team". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  9. ^ O'Malley, Carl (2 June 2010). "RTÉ roll out big guns for their 56 live games". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "Move over Dunphy… RTÉ adds new faces to World Cup coverage". The Score. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  11. ^ http://www.lfchistory.net/Players/Player/Profile/442
  12. ^ Ronnie Whelan at National-Football-Teams.com

External links[edit]