A man for all seasons

Since joining Tony Pulis' side, Glenn Whelan has become an established Republic of Ireland international and he almost certainly will be playing in his first major international tournament at this summer's European Championship. By Pete Thompson.

Glenn Whelan may not get the headlines he deserves but there is no doubting the role he has played in Stoke's rapid rise.

The midfielder has been a consistent performer for the Potters since his move from Sheffield Wednesday four years ago and he has been outstanding this season. Since joining Tony Pulis' side, the 28-year-old has become an established Republic of Ireland international and he almost certainly will be playing in his first major international tournament at this summer's European Championship.

But it has not all been plain sailing for Whelan, who started his career at Manchester City but made just one substitute appearance for the club in the UEFA Cup.

The Dubliner spent two loan spells at Bury in 2003 and joined Wednesday on a permanent deal in the summer of 2004. Whelan became a key player for the Owls, making 41 appearances and scoring four goals as the Yorkshire club secured a League One play-off place.

The midfielder was then voted Man of the Match against Hartlepool in the play-off final after scoring the winning goal at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and firmly established himself as a fans' favourite at Hillsborough.

Wednesday established themselves in the Championship the following season, with Whelan made captain in the absence of the injured Lee Bullen but he was placed on the transfer list in the summer of 2006.

Sturrock was replaced by Brian Laws, who took Whelan off the transfer list and that move paid dividends as he scored seven goals and was voted the club's player of the year.

Whelan was on the move in January 2008, however, with Stoke signing him for a fee of GBP500,000 on a three-and-a-half year contract.

The midfielder played his part as the Potters finished second in the Championship to secure promotion to the English Premier League.

Whelan did not make an immediate impact in the top flight and after finding first-team opportunities hard to come by initially he was linked with another move, but the Irishman insisted he was keen to fight for his place.

And that proved to be a wise decision as he has since been a regular starter for club and country, with Stoke becoming an established EPL club and Ireland thriving under the leadership of Giovanni Trapattoni.

Whelan started for Stoke in the FA Cup final against Manchester City last season and although they were beaten by Roberto Mancini's side, the Potters secured a place in the Europa League.

Stoke boss Pulis has been active in the transfer market, but despite the arrivals of big-money signings such as Wilson Palacios, Whelan has been a mainstay in the centre of midfield.

Whelan was recently rewarded with another new contract but there is no danger he will become complacent. “I can't rest on my laurels and sit on my contract,” Whelan told BBC Radio Stoke. “I want to keep improving and play as many games as I can. The players around me and the manager will push me on, I know they will.”

Whelan is considered to be an unsung hero at the Britannia Stadium, but Pulis knows how valuable the Republic of Ireland international has become. The Stoke boss said: “Every time you ask Glenn to step up to that next level, he does it. He's a good lad, very single-minded. He's got that Celtic blood in him and the determination to prove people wrong — including myself at times.”

Whelan will get the opportunity to further enhance his reputation when the Potters continue their European adventure with a two-legged Europa League tie against Valencia.

And with the prospect of lining up for his country this summer in a tough Euro 2012 group which includes Spain, Italy and Croatia, Whelan has come a long way since he was shown the door by Manchester City.

Whelan's marital status is not known as he keeps his private life private. It is not known what Whelan is driving at the moment.

FACTFILE Name: Glenn Whelan Position: Midfield Club: Stoke City D.O.B: 13/01/1984 Republic of Ireland caps: 36 Republic of Ireland goals: 2

Republic of Ireland debut: v Serbia in June 2008

Moment to remember: Securing promotion to the EPL with Stoke.

Moment to forget: Stoke's defeat against Manchester City in the FA Cup final last year.

© PA Sport, 2012, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.