It is perhaps fitting that Glenn Whelan will bow out of international football on a night where the Republic of Ireland gear up for a low-key November friendly.
Although the involvement of Northern Ireland adds something a little different to the whole affair, it is nevertheless a night likely to be remembered for marking the 85th and final cap for one of Ireland’s less-heralded players.
Not seeking to make him out to be something he’s not, Jonathan Walters possesses a rare first-hand perspective of Whelan’s career. Once a teammate at both club and international level, Walters believes Whelan has “been superb” throughout the decade or so he has given to the Republic of Ireland, and the evidence is there for everyone to see; “What is it, his 85th cap? I’m not too sure many midfielders have more and I think that says it all really.”
Glenn Whelan is indeed Ireland’s most-capped midfielder, and, while he may not quite be of the same ilk as Giles, Brady or Keane, his has been an international career built upon a similarly dogged determination to reach the top, and stay there.
“Every transfer window we’d sign players, but Glenn would still play,” Walters recalled of their joint-spell with Stoke City. “We went through a lot of players trying to replace him, but it never really happened.”
Lacking some of the more attractive attributes that tend to catch the eye, Walters understands why the Dubliner has occasionally been done a disservice in how he is regarded.
“Glenn is one of those where people have criticised him down the years because he doesn’t score goals, or doesn’t do step-overs, or take players on,” Walters understands.
“However, he has done an important job for the team. When you’re that type of player, from the outside people are always looking for an upgrade or a younger player and that’s just the way football is.
“From the inside, you see a little bit more of what is going on.” For Walters, the proof is in his popularity with both Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O’Neill.
“There’s a reason he’s got 85 caps,” Walters argues. “It’s not because he’s an average player, it’s because he does a job that goes unseen. It’s not a glamorous job, it’s not a job that gets you headlines, but it’s a job that needs to be done.”
For the final time, it’s a job Glenn Whelan will capably do tonight.