Ireland cries foul over his 'Cork rant'
THE Irish hometown of controversial football star Stephen Ireland (24) has offered him the chance to set the record straight after a rant that he would "rather shoot himself" than live in Cork.
The midfielder, from Cobh in Co Cork, shocked the football world last week with a rant to a French magazine So Foot that sparked a storm of criticism -- not least in Cork.
Ireland claimed on Newstalk that he had been misquoted and his remarks were entirely taken out of context.
"Last week I had a preview of the interview and I asked them to pull it" he told the radio station.
"I said: 'Listen, this is ridiculous, this is not what it was meant to be.'
"It was supposed to be 15 questions about what's your favourite colour, what's your favourite this . . . this has strayed so far from the topic, it's just ridiculous," he said.
"I love Cork, I've Cork tattooed on my body," he said.
"It's somewhere I go. I've family still there, my best friends are still there, my kids go back there once every two months. If it was that bad to me, I wouldn't have my kids going back there."
However, the French magazine has stood by their story.
Now Cobh is hoping that the Aston Villa player, currently on loan to Newcastle United, will agree to support a charity event whereby he agrees to return to Cork to support a major fund-raising event -- and then uses that event to clarify his true feelings about his hometown.
"I think it is important to put a bit of context on this whole thing," former Cork East TD and Mayor of Cork, councillor John Mulvihill told the Sunday Independent.
"No one can be sure exactly what was said in that interview. I believe that Stephen must have lots of positive memories about Cobh and Cork."
The row surrounding Ireland's comments is the latest controversy to engulf the footballer who, in his early years with Manchester City, was hailed as one of the most exciting young midfielders in the game.
He has since refused to play for his country after a row almost four years ago following incorrect claims by the star that he had to leave the Irish squad early in Slovakia because his grandmother had suddenly died. It later transpired that both his grandmothers were alive and well.