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Red of the Day - Ronnie Whelan


by Chris Wood

Whelan was born into a family of footballers from Dublin, Ireland; his father, Ronnie Whelan Senior, was an Irish international and a key member of the successful St Patrick's Athletic side of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Ronnie Junior was a skilful and industrious midfield player, signed for Liverpool by Bob Paisley for a bargain £35,000 from Dublin club Home Farm F.C. on 19 September 1979, a few days before his 18th birthday and made his debut 18 months later, on the 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 gifted successor to Ray Kennedy on the left flank of Liverpool's midfield, Whelan made a massive contribution to the club's majestic triumphs under Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish in the 1980's winning six League title medals, three FA Cup, a European Cup and three Milk Cup medals.

Liverpool's trophyless season, culminating in the disaster at Heysel, in 1985 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 a cup final, also it was only the third League and FA Cup "double" of the 20th century.

Liverpool ended the following 1987 season trophyless, losing the League Cup final to Arsenal. The following year, Whelan switched to a central role following the arrival of England winger John Barnes at Anfield.

This season saw Liverpool play an exciting brand of football and they won both the league title and 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 Liverpool lost 1-0.

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.

Liverpool won the League again in 1990 but Whelan's role in the side was diminishing, mainly 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.

On his departure from Anfield, Whelan became manager of Southend United and also 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 SS Lazio with 0-4 and 0-3. He now works on the after-dinner circuit and does a spot of punditry.



Ronnie WHELAN 1980-94

Date of Birth: 25/09/61
Nationality: Irish
Postition: Midfield
Games: 493
Goals: 73
Club Hons (Lpool): European Cup 1983/84, League Championship 81/82, 82/83, 83/84, 85/86, 87/88, 89/90, FA Cup 85/86, 88/89, 91/92, League Cup 81/82, 82/83, 83/84
Int Hons: 53 Ireland caps
Other Clubs: Home Farm, Southend United

 

 


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18 Comments

One of my favourite ever Reds.

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Great player and one who could put his foot in a fact that gets overlooked, he could be just as nasty (cute) as a Souness or Case and if he had played against Wimbledon Vinny Jones wouldn't have finished that game after the McMahon tackle.

Scorer of some great great goals too....and possible the best own goal ever against the mancs.

One of my favs was the stunning equaliser against Man U in the last minute of the semi at Goodison when all seemed lost.

 

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Isn't he a United fan?
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I still enjoy watching his goal against United in the Milk Cup final. Great player.
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Wasn't Carragher an Everton fan? And Fowler, Rush....etc etc. it's about the great service he gave us.
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Robbie was cured of such a disease by a Goodisonectomy early in his youth
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Not sure about this but my Dad told me that he was due to sign for us a couple of years before but Ronnie Snr wouldnt let him until he finished his leaving cert.

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Excellent player, rubbish pundit.
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As much of a great servant he was, his anti lfc punditry is beginning to sour my love for him.

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He doesn't say nice things about a club that's a bit shit compared to how they were in his days. Surprise surprise.

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Great player, always wanted to be whelan in the school playground

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A truly fabulous player.  Like a lot of Dubs of his era, he was a childhood Utd. fan (Liam Whelan who passed away in Munich was a Dub, the Best effect in the late 60's etc. all contribute to Utd being popular)

 

However, he was a great servant as a player to the club.  He comes across a moaner on telly and in print, and sometimes bitter about the rewards he got as a player compared with the current generation.  (not unjust in some respects).

 

Nonetheless  - if Rodgers had Whelan in our current team - you would not buy him for €25million.

 

Vastly underrated 

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He doesn't say nice things about a club that's a bit shit compared to how they were in his days. Surprise surprise.


I just think he is a very bland pundit.
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I just think he is a very bland pundit.

I don't know tbh cause I very rarely listen to any pundits but the usual complaint seems to be he's anti-Liverpool.  Perhaps he'd praise the club more when they start winning trophies again & stop buying bang average players for obscene fees who aren't fit to wear the shirt.  

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I don't know tbh cause I very rarely listen to any pundits but the usual complaint seems to be he's anti-Liverpool. Perhaps he'd praise the club more when they start winning trophies again & stop buying bang average players for obscene fees who aren't fit to wear the shirt.


You're a bundle of joy aren't you. We're second in the league, it's not all that bad.
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That curler he scored against Man U in the League Cup Final in 1983 when he first knocked it against the defenders legs, then on the rebound curled it first time into the top right hand corner.

What a classic. 

One of the most memorable Liverpool goals of my youth that one.

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A truly fabulous player.  Like a lot of Dubs of his era, he was a childhood Utd. fan (Liam Whelan who passed away in Munich was a Dub, the Best effect in the late 60's etc. all contribute to Utd being popular)

 

However, he was a great servant as a player to the club.  He comes across a moaner on telly and in print, and sometimes bitter about the rewards he got as a player compared with the current generation.  (not unjust in some respects).

 

Nonetheless  - if Rodgers had Whelan in our current team - you would not buy him for €25million.

 

Vastly underrated 

Very true.

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A very good player, the sort of player that if he was in our team now would have Henderson looking for a transfer, but a bit of a twat. 

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