ONE of the biggest boy bands of all time, at the height of their fame posters of Westlife adorned many a teenage girl's bedroom.
But now Shane, Markus, Kian and Nicky are following in the steps of other nineties acts such as Take That and Steps by making a comeback.
The boys split in 2012 leaving fans devastated – but they reunited pre-Covid in 2018 and finished recording a new album in lockdown.
The band certainly haven't lost their charm with thousands of fans taking to social media to comment on their "gorgeous" looks, and how they are always "looking so perfect".
After their comeback appearance on Strictly Come Dancing last month, many fans said the lads hadn't aged a day.
Shane Filan, 42, who now has three children Nicole, 16, Patrick, 13, and Shane, 11, with wife Gillian, 42, says: "We get fans chucking their knickers at us all the time.
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“One of the last ones, this woman threw up quite a large pair of knickers, it was funny, they were massive.
“Myself and Nicky got into them. We walked around on stage in Manchester wearing them while we sang a song before throwing them back to her.
"She was in the fourth or fifth row so she grabbed them back.”
Kian Egan, 41, who shares two children Koa, nine, and Zeke, six, with wife and former Hollyoaks star Jodi Albert, 38, adds: “I was going to say, they are not little G-strings anymore.”
The boy band are the top act with most Number 1 debuts on the UK Singles Chart, with all 14 of their chart-toppers including Flying Without Wings, Uptown Girl and You Raise Me Up, landing there in their first week.
And it’s not just their work life that has flourished, their families have all grown too.
Juggling parenthood with work is standard for Kian, Shane and Nicky Byrne, 43, who has three sons Rocco, 14, and twin boys Gia and Jay, eight, with wife and childhood sweetheart Georgina Ahern, 42.
But Markus Feehily, 41, will be juggling family life while on tour for the first time after he and fiancée Cailean O'Neill welcomed daughter Layla via a surrogate in 2019.
Mark says: “It’s my first time working and being a dad. The lads probably know how to deal with it a bit more.
“I do have a bit of it [dad guilt], especially if I am away for a bit longer than I thought I was going to be.
“I suppose, you just have to get used to it. It is a brand new experience.
“I am constantly thinking ‘OMG, is she going to remember who I am?’
“Every now and then I might get a funny look when I walk through the door. But it’s fine.
“I feel like I was lucky enough to spend a lot of quality time with her through lockdown.
“Leila was just four and half months old when Covid hit, and I have nice memories of us crawling around on the floor together during lockdown.”
I will do the school run too. I am more concerned about trying to stay away from the parking attendants and getting a coffee, rather than thinking about putting gel in my hair
Nicky quips: “How times have changed Mark. I remember seeing you crawling around in the bars and nightclubs back in the day.”
Mark continues: “Yes it’s a completely different situation.
“But when lockdown hit, I started to appreciate the position I was in compared to others at the time.
“I realised, we have got our baby, we are safe in our home, and much better off than people who are in ICU and ill.
“In situations like that you have got to find some positive to grab onto.”
And despite belonging to one of the biggest boy bands in the world, they are all just regular dads at the school gate.
Shane says: “We just see ourselves as normal parents. We aren’t hot dads, we can look pretty shabby too.
“We are more taxi drivers than anything, dropping the kids to school.”
Nicky adds: “I will do the school run too. I am more concerned about trying to stay away from the parking attendants and getting a coffee, rather than thinking about putting gel in my hair.
“In terms of dad guilt, I think it is important as the kids get older to see a work ethic, and a drive.
“They know I don’t have a regular job, but they still know that’s what pays the bills.
“Whatever they do, they see dad getting up at 7am and getting ready for the day, which I think is good.”
We just see ourselves as normal parents. We aren’t hot dads, we can look pretty shabby too
And like most normal parents, they've had their fair share of parenting disasters too.
Kian says: “Around seven weeks ago I had an incident where I broke my little boy's arm, obviously not on purpose!
“We were at an indoor jungle gym. I was with my six year old and had my friend's little baby on my lap.
“We were going to go down one of these really fast slides, and my son was like daddy let's go together.
“I tried to say no but before you know it he pushed off and grabbed me at the same time.
“Then when he got to the bottom of the slide, his arm went back and I just heard a crack, straight away I looked at him and knew it was broken.
“But accidents happen, things happen when you are a parent.”
All the dads worry about parenting and social media.
Nicky says: “It’s the cigarette of our generation. We don’t see the damage right now and we won’t see it for years to come.”
Shane adds: “It will be mental health damage, rather than lung damage or heart damage.
“It scares me with my children growing up in that world.
“It can be a dangerous place.
“Bullying online is worse than physical bullying because you can really get into people’s heads.
It’s the cigarette of our generation. We don’t see the damage right now and we won’t see it for years to come
“Kids are committing suicide over it. It’s crazy how toxic it can be.
“I personally stay away from it. I am sure people have lots of opinions, but I don’t have time for that.”
And during lockdown while many of us were baking banana bread, the band say they were adding some spice to Wild Dreams, their 12th album which was released this month, and preparing for a new UK tour showcasing all of their biggest hits in 2022.
Nicky says: “She was a lockdown album. You know when people talk about lockdown babies?
“It was a lovely experimentation because when people were making their banana bread, we instead threw spices into different songs.
“An interviewer asked me recently, would you like to be known as long as the Rolling Stones, and I thought that would be nice wouldn’t it?
“On and off, we have responsibilities now. But every two or three years it would be nice for us to meet up as a group again and perform, or make more music.
'She was a lockdown album'
“Whether we will be dominating the charts, who knows?
“But certainly our tours, arenas and stadiums are the places for us to feel at home now and a generation has moved with us.”
Westlife's new album Wild Dreams is out now. The band will also be touring the UK and Ireland in 2022. Tickets are on sale now.
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