Wes Hoolahan hoping to extend West Brom stay until the summer
Former Ireland international also making plans for when playing career ends
Wes Hoolahan in action for West Brom in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie against Brighton at the Amex Stadium. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire
The Dubliner’s current deal runs out on Thursday and the 36-year-old says that he will look at other options if he has to. Hoolahan says he is happy with the way his short time has gone at the Hawthorns and would be happy to stay on if the two sides can agree on terms.
“I’m just happy to be playing and out there training,” says Hoolahan who was back home in Dublin on Sunday to launch academies in Santry and Tallaght that he sees as something he will be concentrating on as his own playing days come to an end.
Hoolahan has played just eight times for West Brom since signing a short-term deal in mid September and his most recent two appearances for the club have come in the FA Cup. He did well over the course of the 80 minutes he played in Saturday’s scoreless draw away to the Premier League outfit Brighton and clearly feels he can continue to play even as his 37th birthday approaches in May.
“If you’re young you might be thinking about the next step in your career and worrying about it, but in 17 years of professional football I’ve done it all before, so whatever happens happens. I’m just happy to be involved. I played yesterday, we did well, it was a good performance against Brighton so obviously I’ll go in and speak with the gaffer and see what the situation is.
“I feel fit and strong,” he says, “so if it came to it I’d look at what’s out there all right.”
Beyond that, he suggests, he will look to pursue coaching qualifications but says he sees his future as most likely lying outside the big club structures.
“This is more up my street,” he says at The Soccer Dome at Santry’s Sportslink. “Working with young kids coming through and helping to develop them with the same ideas that I have.”
That, he suggests, is a big part of it with the Wes Hoolahan Academy (weshoolahan.com) intended to get kids on the ball and better equipped to run with it at their feet and pass it, attributes that earned the former Norwich City and Ireland midfielder a devoted following down the years.
“It’s always been the sort of thing I wanted to get into and it gives me a chance to work with kids in the inner city – places like Portland Row, Mary’s Mansions – where I grew up. There were other kids there back when I was there who had so much talent and if they had had the right advice that they could have gone far; that’s sort of the way I’m looking at it at the moment.
“I want to pass on the experiences that I’ve had over 17 years. I want to help them to go out and enjoy themselves, to get as many touches on the ball as they can. If we want to get the best players through in Ireland we need them to be paying three or four hours of football a day.”