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'I thought Wes would be gone after that' | Byrne on Wes Hoolahan vs. Deportivo

Stuey Byrne joined Off The Ball on Tuesday night to relive Shelbourne's two famous matches again...



Soccer

'I thought Wes would be gone after that' | Byrne on Wes Hoolahan vs. Deportivo


Stuey Byrne joined Off The Ball on Tuesday night to relive Shelbourne's two famous matches against the mighty Deportivo La Coruna in the 2004 Champions League, specifically talking about the talent of Wes Hoolahan. It was all in association with Virgin Media Sport.

Shels' run ended in Spain when the dam eventually burst after 135 minutes over two legs against Deportivo.

It was a brilliant performance by the entire team and Byrne kept the playmaker Juan Carolos Valeron quiet.

It was Wes Hoolahan, though, who truly announced himself to the masses during that first leg in Dublin.

"Nobody put a foot wrong in the game," recalled Byrne, "everyone played well. It was just one of those nights. Everyone knew their job and stuck to what they were being asked to do.

"I was watching [Juan Carolos] Valeron all the time. The thing about that role is you're the deepest midfielder all the time and you're getting the ball out, I just gave it to Wes all the time."

It was just graceful

"I was watching this kid," remembers Byrne from his deep vantage point during the game, "in this setting of Lansdowne Road, under lights.

"I think there were 26,000 people there, but it felt full. It felt packed and I'm looking at this kid absolutely just... he was just brilliant.

"He had no fear in him at all, it was stunning to watch. His movement, little things (he did), and it was just graceful.

"I was really proud, really proud of him, really proud of us. Even now, looking back, people must have been watching going 'who is this kid?'

Byrne wasn't even sure the name Wes Hoolahan would be on the Shelbourne teamsheet ever again, such was his performance at Lansdowne Road.

"I thought Wes would be gone after that," says Byrne, "I didn't think we'd even have him for the away leg. Someone had to snap this fella up. He's gone, he's absolutely just tearing the place up.

"He was excellent as was everybody, as was Alan Moore who was brilliant through that whole campaign."

The position Byrne had for the game as the deepest lying midfielder, keeping tabs on Juan Carlos Valeron, meant he was able to see clearly what was going on when Shels were in possession.

"I was like a spectator as well as a player," said Byrne, "it was surreal maybe as I was so calm I allowed myself to do that, I don't know if other players had that (experience).

"I don't know if I ever had that in any other games. It's very odd, but it's nice to look back and really enjoy it, really remember it."

Stuart Bryne was talking to OTB as part of our Champions League Best Moment series, in association with Virgin Media Sport  #WeFreeSport”.


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Champions League Deportivo La Coruna Shelbourne Stuey Byrne Wes Hoolihan