As Eire prepare for the first of two massive clashes with France for a place at next year’s World Cup Finals, City’s Stephen Ireland rules out an international return…
In an interview with The Grauniad’s Dan Taylor for The Irish Times, the Blues’ Academy graduate is absolutely adamant he will not return to the Republic squad, despite the hopes of many Irish fans:
‘I never enjoyed my time playing for Ireland, never enjoyed it from the age of 14 or 15 when I was travelling up from Cork to Dublin. Even if they get to the World Cup, there’s not a part of me that will think, ‘That could have been me, I could have been there.’ I don’t feel guilty watching them play without me. If they lose I won’t feel it was my fault. If they win, I won’t ever wish I could be there. I have a good life.’
Ireland’s previous history with the Republic has of course been heavily documented but a nagging will for him to change his mind since he cast himself into exile has never gone away.
Even Ipswich manager Royston Vasey Keane called for the Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni to camp outside Ireland’s house in order to get him to rejoin the Men In Green. Nutter rag Keane hails from Cork and Ireland has complained of the same Dublin bias that Keane once complained of.
But regardless of that, it seems clear now that Ireland has burnt his Irish bridges almost completely. He’s adamant that Eire’s manager was not committed to recalling him and has now appeared to rule out any international return:
‘…Trapattoni rang me and asked if we could meet up at some stage. They had a game the following week against Bulgaria and I thought maybe he wants me to come to this game. But when I asked him he said ‘maybe three or four months from now’ which I thought was strange….I said ‘yeah, yeah, that’s fine, if you want to meet we can.’ Nothing had changed in my mind, to be honest. And he was, ‘So, it’s okay if I tell the press we chatted?’…I don’t think he wanted me back; it was more about him covering his back, having a press conference where he could say ‘I’ve made the effort, I’ve spoken to Stephen, blah-di-blah-di-blah.’
‘No manager would sway my decision now.’
Manchester City will of course continue to profit with a City focused Ireland when on song an absolutely devastating asset to have in our armoury.
In the meantime, Superman wishes his country all the best in their battles against the French:
‘I will be watching the game and, if they get to the World Cup, I’ll wish them all the best. I’d love them to do well, but it’s no skin off my back. They deserve to be there. They would be the ones who got themselves there so it wouldn’t be fair for me to show up with my boots and start playing.’
Good luck to Seamus and The Irish team from VMC. JB will be reporting from the Stade de France on Wednesday night/ Thursday morning.
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