Premier League forward makes his belated international breakthrough (video)

Wes Hoolahan is one of those rare footballers that has inspired his own cult following. Throughout Giovanni Trappatoni’s reign, he has consistently ignored the Norwich playmaker. However, this weekend, at the age of 31, he made his competitive debut for the Republic of Ireland in the 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands.

Hoolahan, for such a celebrated individual, doesn’t have the most glittering of CVs. The Dublin-born midfielder spent five years at Shelbourne in the League of Ireland, before spells at Livingston and Blackpool alerted then-manager Glenn Roeder.

After Paul Lambert took charge, Hoolahan’s career began to take off, as he blossomed in his new role just behind the strikers. He scored 13 goals in all competitions before January, and became a key player as Norwich enjoyed two successive promotions and stayed in the Premier League.

Three times since 2006 has he been named in a Team of the Year for his level in England, and while he has never enjoyed much mainstream recognition in the Premier League, it has been clear for some time that his creativity and ability to pick out an otherwise unseen pass would be a useful addition to an often predictable Irish side.

Such limitations in Trappatoni’s side were made abundantly clear in Euro 2012, but until now his only caps have come in uncompetitive games. Hoolahan’s inclusion now, at a relatively late time in his career, may hint that the Italian now finds room for a bit of flair to embellish his often overly rigid approach.

It will surely be too much to expect Hoolahan to start away against Germany, for example, but he has definitely got a role to play in the wider picture for Ireland, as this compilation proves.