Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stoke City's Glen Whelan, The Only Player On The Pitch To Keep His Head Following Aaron Ramsey's Horror Injury

Ryan Shawcross clattered into Aaron Ramsey, his leg shattered and the promising youth lay screaming on the ground. His Arsenal team mates screamed, vomited, and held their heads, leaving Stoke's Glen Whelan as the only man cool enough to read the situation properly and comfort the stricken youth.

While all around him lost their heads, Stoke City's Irish midfielder, Glen Whelan, was the first man to react in proper fashion to Shawcross' tackle.

The young Welsh midfielder was enjoying only his seventh start of the season, when "that tackle" ended the game prematurely for him. For many Arsenal fans and players alike, Ramsey represents the future of the club. He is expected to pick up the mantle of midfield maestro if and when Cesc Fabregas decides to go home to Barcelona.

As he lay on the ground, white with shock, his ankle dangling at an awkward angle, his Arsenal compatriots simply lost their heads.

For a few moments they forgot that Aaron was a team mate and player, that he was only 19, they only saw him as a symbol of the clubs future.

Some players chased after the referee demanding him to send off Shawcross, some actually turned and vomited, such was the devastation on show, some chased the Stoke defender seeking retribution.

Glen Whelan was the only player on the pitch who managed to show anything like composure. Compared to his fellow professionals on show, the Stoke player was literally the personification of cool.

He kneeled gently beside Ramsey cradling his head in one hand, clutching his hand in the other and whispered to him, telling him to "stay calm, everything would be all right."

His first task was to position himself in such a way that Ramsey could not see his leg, thus protecting the youth from certain shock. He then called to a motionless Nicklas Bendtner, getting him to snap out his trance and told him to help his stricken colleague.

Ten yards away a melee was ensuing...

"I was trying my best to take his mind off it, telling him not to think about it or to look at it."

"He knew straight away how bad it was, though. He just kept saying 'my leg, my leg'."

"I went there because I was closest to him. I had to."

"He held onto me with the pain he was going through. I think he went into a state of shock when it happened, so I was just trying to do what I could (for him)."

Whelan has defended his team-mate Ryan Shawcross, saying that the replays prove there was no malicious intent. "A hard tackle, but not a dirty tackle," he argued.

"The two lads could go into a tackle like that 100 times again, and nobody would come off injured."

"Well, I haven't seen it again and if I had a chance to see it, I'd turn the telly off," he said. "There's young people who couldn't stomach it.

"The Premier League and the two clubs need to sit down and watch it again. I think that's ok, but I think Sky were right not showing it because it can make people queasy. Of course, it's a contact sport and these things happen. Thankfully they don't happen too often."

Whelan had yet to sign for Stoke, when in October 2006, Rory Delap suffered the exact same injury against Sunderland. The Irishman returned to action as good as ever in July 2007 and went on to play 46 matches for Stoke the following season.

"It's the first time that I had ever experienced anything like that and, touch wood, I hope I never have to see anything like that again."

"First and foremost, I just hope that the young lad (Ramsey) gets back as soon as possible."