Stephen Ireland reflects on having to ‘pick Ireland over my kids’

From the age of 17 to 19 he was raising two young children alone, on £85 a week

Republic of Ireland’s Stephen Ireland scores against Wales in 2007. Photograph: Tom Honan/Inpho

Republic of Ireland’s Stephen Ireland scores against Wales in 2007. Photograph: Tom Honan/Inpho

 

Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Stephen Ireland has said that his short international career became a case of having to choose between his kids and his country.

In September 2007 he departed Steve Staunton’s squad citing his grandmother’s death. It would later emerge that this was a lie, and the former Manchester City and Aston Villa player would never feature for his country again.

Talking in an interview with subscription based website, The Athletic, the 33 year-old revealed that from the age of 17 to 19 he was raising two young children alone, on £85 a week, with his father in Ireland, his mother not speaking to him, and City he claims providing no player support at the time.

“It became a bit of a circumstance thing,” he explains in the interview regarding his time in the green of Ireland. “Steve Staunton (the Ireland manager) said I could bring my kids and they would put them in a hotel room with a baby-sitter, but what kind of life is that for two kids? So I didn’t do it and I had to pick and choose my moments that I could play for Ireland and when I couldn’t. I just found the 10-day camps were too much for me to give.”

Ireland admits the lie about his grandmother - made up “in the heat of the moment” - became a much larger issue than he could’ve ever imagined. And was one he failed to deal with. His partner had actually suffered a miscarriage and the family were trying to keep the story to themselves.

“At that point I actually felt like retiring from football. I swear to god, I actually considered retiring from football. I text my accountant and said: ‘Do I have enough money to retire?’ And he said: ‘Yeah you do, but it depends how much is enough’, and I was quite young.

“I couldn’t sacrifice going to play for Ireland, because literally for some reason it became a case of having to pick Ireland over my kids, and all day I’m going to pick my kids.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.