Ireland claims report misquoted him
Newcastle midfielder Stephen Ireland has insisted he was misquoted amid reports claiming he slated former club Aston Villa and the cities of Cork and Birmingham.
The 24-year-old, whose hopes of making a debut for the Magpies against Everton tomorrow are being hampered by a thigh strain, found himself in the headlines once again this morning.
In an interview with French football magazine So Foot, he reportedly criticised home-town Cork and Birmingham, as well as former managers Gerard Houllier and Roberto Mancini.
However, Ireland today issued a statement saying some of his comments had been taken out of context and apologising to anyone offended by them.
He said: "I'm upset with what has been printed this morning because I feel like I've been portrayed in the wrong way.
"I was misquoted and things have been blown way out of proportion. That is the reason why I feel like I needed to say something because the quotes are very unfair.
"What I said during the interview has been twisted to sound particularly blunt, and a lot of what was written about my home town of Cork - which me and my family visit regularly - was just plain ridiculous.
"The comments regarding Birmingham were also taken way out of context as I had only been at Villa a few months and didn't even live there, so I have no idea what Birmingham is like to live in.
"Everyone I have met from Birmingham have been nice - my girlfriend's father is from Birmingham, so why would I say that? It's just crazy.
"I can only apologise if anyone was offended, but the way the interview was written made me sound very harsh, and I am not that kind of person."
Ireland is said to have described Birmingham as a "crap" city, and said he would rather shoot himself than live in Cork.
The interview also includes comments from claiming he has no interest in playing international football for the Republic of Ireland again despite several attempts by manager Giovanni Trapattoni to tempt him to return.
Ireland has spoken previously of his frustration at the treatment he received at the hands of Mancini and Houllier.