Sun, Sep 16, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Midfielder Ireland reveals real reason he quit Irish squad

AFP , DUBLIN

Republic of Ireland midfielder Stephen Ireland has revealed the real reason why he asked to quit his country's squad before their Euro 2008 qualifier against the Czech Republic.

Ireland told Republic boss Steve Staunton that he wanted to be released ahead of last Wednesday's match in Prague because his maternal grandmother had died, but the truth was completely different.

The Manchester City star's girlfriend Jessica had suffered a miscarriage and told Ireland his grandmother was dead in the hope it would persuade Staunton to let him return home.

When the lie was exposed he was finally forced to come clean on Friday.

"Steve Staunton told me that they had taken a call from my girlfriend, Jessica, and she said my grandmother had died," Ireland said. "I was deeply shocked because I believed it was my maternal grandmother who had brought me up from when I was five. I immediately rang my girlfriend to get more details. She was distraught and explained that she had just suffered a miscarriage. Jessica said she was very lonely and wanted me to come home. She said she thought they might let me home quicker if they thought my grandmother had died."

"When I finished the call I told the manager and doctor that my grandmother had died and because we were very close I wanted to go home immediately," he said. "The manager said that was no problem and he would get the FAI to sort it out. Early on Monday morning I got a phone call from Stephen Staunton telling me that the FAI had discovered my grandmother in Cork was not dead. He wanted to know what was going on and I told him that there had been a mistake and it had been my father's mother."

"On Thursday, I got a phone call from Manchester City stating that the FAI had discovered that my paternal grandmother was also alive," he said. "I decided at that stage that I must tell truth and admit I had told lies."

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