Whelan has plenty of critics in the Irish media, but Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has no doubts about the abilities of this dogged and gritty central midfield performer.
The Italian coach likes to play with two holding midfielders who are asked to provide the more progressive players with a platform to express themselves in this Ireland side and Whelan ticks every box in that respect. He may lack a little pace, may be short of a magic first touch, but he has a key place in this Ireland team and played in all 12 of his nation’s Euro 2012 qualifiers to confirm as much.
“I’m in the spotlight a lot more as an Ireland player and people are going to criticise me if they feel I’m not good enough to play at this level,” says Whelan. “That’s fine by me and they are entitled to their opinion. If they feel I’m not up to it, they should go on television after the game and give their view, but one of the greatest managers of all-time thinks I am good enough to be in his Ireland team and that’s enough for me.”