Ireland goes on the attack
SOCCER:STEPHEN IRELAND has launched an astonishing attack on the Republic of Ireland, Giovanni Trapattoni and his hometown Cork in an explosive interview with a French magazine.
The Newcastle midfielder, who last represented Ireland in September 2007, said he had “better things to do” than play for Ireland, labelled Trapattoni “the most arrogant man” he has met, and added he would rather shoot himself than live in Cork.
Ireland has not played international soccer since he famously pulled out of an important Euro 2008 qualifier against the Czech Republic having made incorrect claims about the death of his grandmother(s). Although that sorry episode is in the past, the 24-year-old insists there is no chance of him wearing the green shirt again.
“I won’t come back,” Ireland told So Footmagazine. “I feel nothing for the national team. I don’t feel at all guilty when they lose and when they win I never say ‘oh dear, I could have been there’.
“Even if Ireland had qualified for the World Cup I wouldn’t have gone. People are calling for me to return, but I only ever played five games guys!”
Having turned out for Ireland at various youth levels, the former Manchester City playmaker made an immediate impact in the senior side, scoring four goals in six appearances. However, he said he rarely enjoyed the international experience and suggested the fall-out from the Czech match was merely “a good excuse” to retire.
“International soccer doesn’t interest me,” he said. “Going away for three days to play in Andorra – I’ve got better things to do.
“Also, when you’re Irish you know you’ll never win the World Cup. Even when I played for the youth teams, I got fed up at having to go away. Everyone else was from Dublin and I came from Cork. I had to get the train on my own, pay for a taxi, there was no hotel, no food. The organisation was amateurish.”
There seemed to be a possibility of Ireland returning when he was called in for talks with Trapattoni, yet the player was none too impressed by the meeting. “I’ve never seen anyone so arrogant,” Ireland scorned. “I met him once. He was taking calls every two minutes and made me hang around for 15 minutes in his office.
“In the end, he said, ‘if you want to play then come, if not, it’s no problem’. He did that mainly so the press would leave him in peace.
“Foreign coaches, they’re no good,” Ireland added.
The midfielder did not restrict his tirade to the national team. He also expressed strong views on Ireland’s economic crisis and laughed off suggestions he may one day return to live in Cork.
“Ireland is reaping what it sowed,” he said. “We built blocks of flats just for the sake of it and now there’s no one inside them. It cost huge amounts of money and nobody is in a position to pay. But I don’t care about Ireland. I don’t know if I’ll go back one day. Live in Cork? I might as well shoot myself. I prefer Los Angeles.”
Ireland’s club career has been faltering. He left City for Aston Villa last year but was sold on by Gérard Houllier in January after just 10 matches. In line to make his Newcastle debut against Everton tomorrow, Ireland will be looking to prove a point to the City manager Roberto Mancini.
“Mancini never liked me. He’s doing everything wrong. He got rid of everyone at the club – even the cook left. The family club I spent nine years with exists no more. What happens when Mancini goes? He takes his 50 recruits with him. Also, since he’s been there City matches are incredibly dull.”
So Footis a respected monthly French soccer magazine renowned for taking an alternative look at the sport. The Ireland interview is in today’s edition.
TALKING HEAD: A case study
“I’ve never seen anyone so arrogant. I met him once. He was taking calls every two minutes and made me hang around for 15 minutes in his office.”
– Ireland on Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni
“Mancini never liked me. He’s doing everything wrong. He got rid of everyone at the club – even the cook left. The family club I spent nine years with exists no more.”
– Ireland on City manager Roberto Mancini