Lee Trundle has heaped praise on one of the most beloved Irish footballers of the last 20 years.
The former Wrexham and Swansea striker gives us a fascinating insight into a professional career which spanned over 20 years and 650+ games. He earmarked Irishman Wes Hoolahan and Manchester United Legend Wayne Rooney as two of his toughest opponents.
Hoolahan was famously a darling of Irish football fans and analysts (Eamon Dunphy in particular) due to his creative spark and playmaking abilities. Hoolahan’s playstyle even earned him the nickname ‘Wessi’ among his many fans who drew the comparison between the former Ireland international and Lionel Messi due to their similar build and playstyle.
Hoolahan and Rooney my toughest opponents
Leon Britton was an outstanding player and one of the best I ever played with. He wasn’t known for skills, tricks, or goals, but he reads the game so well and he helps all of his teammates. He managed to compete with Yaya Toure, Luis Suarez, and Eden Hazard in the Premier League despite not being a big guy, but his reading of the game was superb.
Leon didn’t put a lot of tackles in, but he’d intercept passes and he was always thinking one step ahead. He had a special talent.
I remember playing against Wes Hoolahan when he was at Norwich and seeing his tricks and skills. He may have been playing against me, but I loved watching him play.
Another one would be Wayne Rooney. I remember playing against him in a Worthington Cup game in October 2002. It was a few weeks before his famous goal against Arsenal. He came off the bench and scored twice. His quality, even back then, was evident.
*Neil Lennon is the 9/4 favourite in the next Republic of Ireland Manager betting according to the latest football odds at BoyleSports.
Copying Ronaldinho, Romario and Ronaldo
A lot of my football was played in the park, a Sunday League pitch, or in five-a-side. I used to play five-a-side a lot, and it helps develop your control since you’re always in a tight spot. You need to use your tricks to get out of it!
I love expressing myself and trying out tricks. When I was growing up, Paul Gascoigne was a massive inspiration, as was Ronaldinho, Romario, and my personal favourite, Ronaldo Nazario – he was my ultimate idol!
I would watch all of these players and try to copy their tricks. If you’re that type of player, you’ll be drawn to the ones who express themselves, score goals, and play with a smile on their face. That’s what I always tried to do. I wanted to win, of course, but I also wanted to have a smile on my face and enjoy myself.
I have a couple of standout moments in football that I look back fondly upon – one of them was when I rolled the ball around my shoulders against Huddersfield in 2003. You don’t often see that on a football pitch, and I received a lot of press around that!
My goal in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final in 2006, where I chested the ball before volleying it in, was another special memory. All of my family and friends were there, and it was a great moment for me. I’d have to go with those two.
I’m from Liverpool, so I would have heard Wayne Rooney’s name prior to playing against him.
I would have been aware of players who were on the radar in the local area, such as Steven Gerrard. You also knew he’d be a star, and Wayne was the same. Everyone knew he’d be a first-team player, and it’s not hard to see when you’re making your debut at 16! He did it against Arsenal against grown men, and it was obvious he was a special talent.
I remember being excited to see what he could do when he came on. I even have a picture with my arm around him after the game in my house! I just wished I’d asked for his shirt, as it’d be worth a fortune now!
Swansea will finish above Cardiff
I think Luke’s arrival, combined with the news coming out of Cardiff about their manager leaving, will shift the momentum in Swansea’s favour. There’s been a lot of noise about Erol Bulut for a while now.
Swansea are on a different path and they’ll be looking up. It was hard under Duff, and if you asked me then, I would have said Cardiff will finish above Swansea. Luke Williams has made the difference, though.
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