Thursday 26 April 2018

FAI believes Stephen Kelly's version of events over Trap's

Ian Mallon

Ian Mallon

THE FAI does not believe Ireland star Stephen Kelly gave manager Giovanni Trapattoni a "play me or lose me" ultimatum.

This is despite a row that erupted between Trapattoni and Kelly after the Italian claimed the player had demanded to be included in the Irish team for the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.

Trapattoni's public outburst is in direct contravention of new rules issued to the Italian in the wake of the 6-1 defeat by Germany.

He was contacted yesterday by FAI spokesman Peter Sherrard and warned that his comments about Kelly were in breach of his agreement with the association. The Reading defender said he was "shocked and disgusted" with Trapattoni's comments.


The Irish Independent has learned that there is no evidence that Kelly ever said he would not travel to the Faroe Islands if he was not in the starting 11.

Kelly, Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli met in a room without translator Manuela Spinelli when the row erupted.

The player had requested the meeting in the wake of the Germany humiliation and tried to make a case for his inclusion in the Faroes match, which Ireland won 4-1.

However, the FAI believes something was "lost in translation", that Kelly is not the sort of player to behave in such a way and that he is a loyal player who feels honoured to be involved in the Irish squad.

Kelly subsequently had a row with Tardelli, and reports of his reluctance to travel to the Faroes made headline news last October.

The matter was raised again on Thursday when Trapattoni said he would not pick players who did not want to play for their country in an extraordinary outburst against Kelly and Darren Gibson.

"You know what happened with Kelly? 'I play or I go home'," Trapattoni said.

Kelly (29), who has been capped 32 times, lashed out at the 73-year-old manager's comments.

"I am shocked and disgusted with the untrue and unwarranted comments made by Giovanni Trapattoni," he said. "These hurtful and untrue comments have caused distress and upset to myself and my family who know the level of commitment and passion I have always shown.

"I have proudly represented Ireland from the age of 16, and I have never shown anything other than 100pc commitment. I cannot and will not tolerate attempts to defame my commitment.

"Representing Ireland at senior international level has given me some of my proudest moments in my professional career.

"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."

Kelly, who was left out of the squad to take on Poland on Wednesday, appears to have fallen out of favour since his row with Tardelli prior to the World Cup qualifier against the Faroes last October.

The two became involved in an argument at the end of a training session as the players, beaten 6-1 by Germany on the Friday, prepared to take on the Faroe Islands in another World Cup qualifier.

Kelly, who did not play in the Germany match, was reportedly ready to refuse to board the team plane to the Faroes until Trapattoni and officials stepped in to calm tensions.

Kelly's Reading team-mate Ian Harte this week branded Trapattoni a "clown". The 35-year-old Drogheda native said: "To all the people asking if I have retired from international football, no I haven't. Trap didn't even know I was Irish. What a clown."

Irish Independent

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