The Ambassador: Ronnie Whelan

The UEFA Europa League final ambassador for Dublin, Ronnie Whelan knows all about big European nights from his successful playing days with both Liverpool FC and the Republic of Ireland.

Date of birth: 25 September 1961
Nationality: Irish
Playing career: Home Farm FC, Liverpool FC, Southend United FC
Coaching career: Southend United FC, Panionios GSS, Apollon Limassol FC, Olympiakos Nicosia FC

The UEFA Europa League final ambassador, Ronnie Whelan knows all about big European nights from his successful playing days with both Liverpool FC and the Republic of Ireland.

Whelan was an integral member of Liverpool's all-conquering side of the 1980s and also played a telling part in the Ireland national team's breakthrough appearance at the UEFA European Championship finals in 1988.

Whelan began his career in Dublin with Home Farm FC before crossing the Irish Sea to Liverpool in 1979. Aged 21 he was the Reds' hero when collected his first major honour in the 1982 League Cup final, scoring both goals in a 2-1 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur FC.

The following year he was the matchwinner in the League Cup final once again with an eye-catching curling strike against Manchester United FC.

Whelan tasted European glory with Liverpool in 1984 when they beat AS Roma in the final of the European Champion Clubs' Cup, but was on the losing side when they returned to the final 12 months later and were beaten by Juventus.

Whelan helped Liverpool win the league and FA Cup double in 1986 and by the time they returned to Wembley to beat Everton FC in the 1989 FA Cup final, he was wearing the captain's armband. Overall the Irishman won six league championships with Liverpool and made 493 appearances for the club, scoring 73 goals.

An intelligent footballer, he moved from the left side of midfield to the centre of the park as he matured although many will remember best the spectacular goals he delivered with his left foot.

These included his acrobatic volley in a 1-1 draw with the Soviet Union in the group stage of the 1988 UEFA European Championship. Whelan featured in every game of Ireland's first major finals appearance and was subsequently in the Irish squads for the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. He appeared as a substitute in a first-round game against Norway at USA '94 and retired with 53 caps.

In the 1994/95 season Whelan ended his long association with Liverpool and moved to Southend United FC to take up a role as player-manager. As a coach he worked subsequently at Panionios GSS in Greece, whom he led to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1998/99, and Apollon Limassol FC and Olympiakos Nicosia FC in Cyprus.  He now works as a media pundit for the Irish state broadcaster RTÉ.

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