Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie is a former Republic of Ireland football midfielder who was an integral part of the dominant Liverpool side of the 1980s. He was at the club from 1979 until 1994, and finished his career at Southend United, where he was also player-manager.

Ronnie had one appearance in his first season for the first team, as he spent much of his first few months at the club in the reserves. The following season he 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 Ronnie, 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 Ronnie scoring twice in the 3-1 win.

In 1983, Liverpool retained these two trophies and Ronnie 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.

This season saw Liverpool play an exciting brand of football and they won both the league title and FA Cup, although Ronnie missed out on the cup final as Nigel Spackman, who had won his place in the team when Ronnie was injured earlier in the season was chosen ahead of him.

Ronnie was a regular for the Republic of Ireland. Making his debut on the 29 April 1981, he came off the bench in the 63rd minute of the 3-1 victory over Czechoslovakia at Landsdowne Road. Ronnie was also part of the Irish side which qualified for the 1988 European Championships in West Germany.

An injury to club captain Alan Hansen meant that Ronnie 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 Ronnie played a key role in leading the team on and off the pitch in a difficult time.

When Hansen recovered, Ronnie 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 his departure from Anfield, Ronnie 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 is now a regular speaker on the after dinner circuit.


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