Trap urged to keep his counsel

Fri, Feb 8, 2013, 00:00

Soccer:The FAI has called on Giovanni Trapattoni to keep team matters in-house after Stephen Kelly claimed this morning the Republic of Ireland manager ‘attempted to defame’ him in the aftermath of Wednesday’s 2-0 friendly win over Poland.

Kelly was responding to the Italian’s claim that the Reading full-back offered him an ultimatum prior to the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands last October, days after he was left out of the 6-1 home defeat to Germany when Ireland's defensive resources were already depleted.

In a lengthy statement, the defender, regarded as one of the most committed members of the squad in recent years, said he was “shocked and disgusted with the untrue and unwarranted comments made by Giovanni Trapattoni.”

It is yet another uncomfortable public spat involving the manager and one of his players and a brief comment from the FAI this afternoon suggested the association’s patience is wearing thin.

“Giovanni Trapattoni is a great manager,” a spokesman said, “and he has achieved a lot, but the association would prefer if team matters like the one before the Faroe Islands match, which was reported yesterday, were dealt with in private.”

When Trapattoni named the squad for the Poland game he said Kelly and captain Robbie Keane were given “a break for this fixture”. On Thursday morning, however, he said Kelly was not involved because he demanded to play against the Faroe Islands or be allowed depart the squad.

“You know what happened with Kelly?” said the Italian. “‘I play or I go home!’ So go home. Paul Green? I called him late at night and he came straight away. It’s the way the Irish players need to be. They need to be happy to play for their country.”

Kelly’s response to the Italian's change of tone this morning was uncharacteristic of a player who has routinely kept his counsel throughout his career and never given anyone reason to question his commitment. However, the player, who Trapattoni named as captain for a friendly against Uruguay in March 2011, does stop short of categorically denying he gave his manager an ultimatum.

“It is extremely disappointing for me to have to make this statement,” he said. “I am simply shocked and disgusted with the untrue and unwarranted comments made by Giovanni Trapattoni. These hurtful and untrue comments have caused distress and upset to myself and my family who have supported me throughout my career and know the level of commitment and passion I have always shown in representing my country.

“I have proudly represented Ireland from the age of 16, and I have never shown anything other than 100 per cent commitment to my country and my team. I cannot and will not tolerate attempts to defame my commitment and loyalty to Ireland.

“Representing Ireland at senior international level has given me some of my proudest moments in my professional career, and for me captaining my country will always be my greatest achievement. It saddens me greatly that I should have to defend my good character and reputation in a profession I love, however, I refuse to allow anyone to question my passion for representing Ireland.

“I will continue as always to proudly be available for my country.”

This scenario is exactly the sort the FAI would have hoped to have put an end to when Trapattoni sat down with them to discuss his future in the wake of the heavy defeat to Germany.

The manager was then requested to travel to see more games and players in England, which he has done, but he was also asked to avoid publicising disagreements with players and to keep disputes behind closed doors.

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