Glenn Whelan says it was a 'privilege' to make Republic of Ireland return
By Benjamin Lang
Last Updated: 27/03/19 12:07pm
Glenn Whelan has expressed his pride at returning to the Republic of Ireland squad after it appeared his international career was over in November.
The 35-year-old produced a solid display on Tuesday night, as Ireland beat Georgia 1-0 to kick off their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with back-to-back wins.
Whelan thought he had pulled on the green jersey for the final time in a friendly against Northern Ireland - but that match proved to be Martin O'Neill's final game as manager.
O'Neill's departure presented Whelan with a chance to add to his 85 caps, as new manager Mick McCarthy was eager to welcome the Aston Villa midfielder back into the fold.
"I never retired," said Whelan.
"Obviously, Martin O'Neill at the time was going about his thing and I understood that because I'm getting on in age.
"When I got the phone call to come back, there were no second questions. It was, 'Get the tickets booked and I'm there.'
"It's a privilege to come back and put the jersey on.
"In November, I thought that was going to be the last time I'd ever do it."
Whelan operated at the base of midfield during Tuesday's victory, which freed up Jeff Hendrick and match-winner Conor Hourihane to thrive in more attacking roles.
But Whelan sat out Ireland's 1-0 victory over Gibraltar on Saturday, and the veteran said he is prepared to help whenever called upon.
"I know where I stand," he said. "I know I'm getting on a little bit. If I come in and do my part, I'm more than happy.
"We've got a few lads coming through who need that little bit of experience, so I can pass that on a little bit."
Whelan will now turn his attention back to club matters - he will assist Villa in their bid for promotion from the Championship, before Ireland return to action against Denmark in June.