Stoke City: Whelan over Euros heartache
STOKE midfielder Glenn Whelan insists the mental scars have finally healed following Ireland's dismal showing at Euro 2012.
He says he has a thick skin and can take criticism, but that didn't protect him from the sense of guilt after returning from three hidings in Poland and Ukraine.
Whelan, who will line up in Ireland's friendly against Greece this evening, says his family even tried to shield him from the fall-out when he returned from the European Championships.
"They wouldn't talk to me," he said. "They would try to hide it away from me, but I have got skin like a rhino.
"You have to take the good with the bad. After the Euros I felt a little bit embarrassed.
"I was hard to be around, not only because of the pressure of being to a tournament for the first time in 10 years.
"It's the letting down the family and friends who have supported you. That's what it felt like to me."
Whelan goes into tonight's friendly calling on coach Giovanni Trapattoni to continue with his three-man midfield experiment.
The venture looked to be doomed after it failed to prevent the recent 6-1 home defeat by Germany – a game Whelan missed through injury – but the Dubliner insists fortifying their midfield is crucial to Ireland's long-term prospects.
He explained: "He has fiddled about a little bit with systems and that's helped because since I have been involved and been playing, I don't think I have played against another national team which has played 4-4-2.
"We are told by the manager to go out and play like this. It's not for me then to go, 'Hang on a minute, I'm not'.
"He's the manager."
Whelan believes the Irish FA was right to withstand a torrent of criticism and continue backing Trapattoni in the wake of that World Cup qualifying debacle against Germany.
"At the time, he had to take it because the results weren't right.
"We as players take the criticism on the chin."
Whelan will be the only Stokie in green tonight after Marc Wilson (broken leg) was joined on the treatment table by Jon Walters following his return to the Potteries with a knee injury.