Legends: Liam ‘Billy’ Whelan

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By Worried Turkey.

Liam ‘Billy’ Whelan: aged 22, forward, 96 appearances, 52 goals, 4 Republic of Ireland caps.

Billy was a magician with a ball at his feet. I really don’t think he knew how good he was or how much better he could have become. A world-class forward, there is no doubt about that. His vision and passing was sheer class, I remember seeing ‘Billy’ taking on and beating at least six players on a mazy run but then beating himself, he was that kind of player.

As you can see from his goal scoring record, Whelan knew where the back of the net was. He wasn’t a Ronaldo, the Portuguese man has a more powerful shot. However, his approach play was better; he had the ability to look up, see a team mate in a space and was somehow capable of finding them in the most difficult situation. Only after a player isn’t there you realise how good they were. If you can imagine Giggsy, the way he can or could beat people and cross with a touch of Cantona, then you have Whelan.

Whelan played as an inside forward, he could drift wide and confuse defences because in those days players were supposed to remain in set positions. Only when Real Madrid started to use different formations that we realised football could be played differently as… Sir Matt exploited. Whelan however sensed it more than most; he would drift and therefore make space for the other forwards in team.

Being only 22 when he died meant yet again, Manchester United had lost a real talent. A talent which would have seen us rule. Though not as powerful as Dunc, he would have been an influential figure of the forward line…

Again sorely missed, but glad I witnessed a man who was so gracious on a football pitch, as he was off it…

Stay tuned for more thoughts by worriedturkey. In future articles he will discuss events such as wearing George Best’s boots in a kick around, meeting Sir Matt and drinking with Alex Stepney.

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