‘My club’ - Glenn Whelan pays tribute to Stoke City after retirement at Bristol Rovers

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A 20-year career in senior professional football came to an end on Sunday when Bolton Wanderers beat Bristol Rovers.

Bristol Rovers midfielder Glenn Whelan has confirmed his decision to retire from professional football.

Sunday’s 3-2 defeat to Bolton Wanderers brought to an end a 23-year carer that started at Dublin side Cherry Orchard. The 38-year-old came off the pitch to a round of applause after a 12-minute cameo appearance with his family in attendance.

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Whelan had been on course to retire last summer but as registered as a player-coach for the Gas, but has made a final decision on the matter. The Ireland veteran made 683 club appearances, as well as appearing 91 times for the national team.

“The time has come, confirmed Whelan in an interview with BBC Radio Stoke. “The boots are hung up.

“I can’t complain at all, I’ve had a fantastic time playing football for a job. I had the family there with me and it’s all been good and I’m delighted to finish on a high.

Asked if he will be taking a break, he said: “I think the wife and kids have been on my case for that. It’s in the blood, it’s all I’ve known since I was a child. I don’t see it as a job, it’s my hobby and I love it.”

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Whelan’s career may most be remembered for being a part of the Stoke City team which held their own in the Premier League for years. He played under Tony Pulis, and helped the Potters reach the FA Cup final, as well as qualify for Europe.

It is during time at the bet365 Stadium that he regards as the best time of his career. Whelan also won promotions with Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa, whilst helping Rovers win promotion back to League One.

He said: “I keep saying Stoke is my club, I had a fantastic time there. The promotion, the European games we had and the FA Cup final.

“A lot of memories, the international stuff as well, there will be a lot of teams popping up over the next few days to look back on.”

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Whelan won’t be taking a break from football and will instead just take his permanent place in the dugout alongside Joey Barton. The Ireland midfielder was brought to the Memorial Stadium by his former Manchester City youth teammate after working together at Fleetwood Town.

He said: “I’ve gone to help them out to achieve their ambitions and that was to get out of League Two last season and stabilise this season.

“I’ve been lucky injury wise, I’ve had no major injuries to stop me. To be honest the last couple of years partly with Bristol Rovers was try to get involved in the coaching journey.

“Part of the reason I went down to Bristol was because there was a chance for me to go and make that transition from playing to coaching. All these years I’ve been in, planning training sessions and speaking about the squads that we’re playing against and picking teams.”

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Whelan has already received high praise from his boss Barton, who believes he could one day coach the Ireland national team. The former Villains man is undergoing his study for the UEFA Pro Licence, and is also the coach for Ireland’s Under-16’s.

He said: “I’ve learned a little bit this year alone, there’s a lot to be learned. I’m going to keep trying to improve as a coach but I’ll enjoy the journey like I have always done.

“I’m sure if I’ve got the backing of my family and friends I can go all the way hopefully.”

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