Darron Gibson can follow Rooney's lead
Wayne's new world shows great friend that performances make fans forgive and forget
DARRON GIBSON and Wayne Rooney are close friends. Rooney was groomsman at Gibson's wedding earlier this year and, around Derry, there are anecdotal tales of Wayne and Colleen slipping under the radar on visits to Foyleside.
We don't know what they talk about, of course, although the perils of social media let us know that they caught up last Wednesday, the same day that Gibson held court with a group of Irish press who had flown over to interview him in conjunction with a promotion for EA Sports.
There's a chance it might have cropped up in discussion.
It's fair to say that Darron is a bit of a mystery to us. Generally, new players coming into the Irish camp spend a bit of time on press duty before they decide they don't really need to do it anymore.
As a kid who had come through the Manchester United media school, Gibson arrived with that attitude from the start, perfecting the art of skulking through a mixed zone with a mobile phone pressed to his ear.
Friends and family of footballers must receive more phone calls in the minutes after a match than at any other time. This has crafted the image of the 25-year-old as an aloof character, distant and perhaps disinterested, but that is challenged by people who've dealt with him in a different capacity and find him quite engaging.
We saw that side of the man in a Manchester hotel as he sought to explain his decision to refuse Irish calls until Giovanni Trapattoni was shown the door.
After a full and frank 32-minute discussion, word came back that Gibson had quite enjoyed the opportunity to get things off his chest.
Instead of heading for the hills when his round of interviews concluded, he made sure to knock on the door of the room where working media were based to say thanks for their time and to add his wish that the following day's papers got his views across clearly.
Certainly, he managed to explain why his difficulties with Trapattoni led to a year's break from the international game, but the reaction to those comments would suggest that he's still going to have to sway quite a few sceptics who will always believe that he should have toughed it out.
It is a bit much to doubt Gibson's commitment to Ireland when, as a teenager, he received plenty of abuse for switching allegiance from Northern Ireland. However, the fit of pique that caused him to stay away from the World Cup campaign has angered a section of Irish fans, primarily the advocates of Trapattoni.
Gibson revealed that the temptation to respond to abusive comments on Twitter almost got the better of him on more than one occasion.
His eagerness to clarify his feelings would suggest he is slightly apprehensive about the reception he will receive upon his return. If he's worried, he should look no further than Rooney for encouragement.
When he opened the scoring for Manchester United against Bayer Leverkusen last Tuesday, Old Trafford reverberated with the sound of supporters chanting the striker's name.
Considering the transparency of his attempts to leave the club during the summer, the fans have shown themselves to be especially forgiving, particularly as they had already stood by the Scouser after his first aborted attempt to head for the exit door.
Gibson is nowhere near as divisive, but when he pulls on the green shirt again, he can do so in the knowledge that if he performs then the finer details of the Euro 2012 fallout will suddenly become irrelevant.
It is true to say that the reputation of the players who were exiled under Trapattoni soared when the team struggled. That is always the way.
Gibson has genuinely improved over the last year, however, from a point where there were quite a few people happy that he was out of the team.
Back in 2010, Eamon Dunphy described him as "brain dead", but he is now part of the chorus welcoming the Everton man back to the fold.
The path to reconciliation may not be as simple for Stephen Ireland, but the fickleness of football goes both ways. Should the Corkman decide to end his nonsensical hiatus, he will be gradually accepted if quality performances follow.
Gibson doesn't deserve to be put in the same bracket and has less ground to make up, but the same theory applies.
He will only be reminded of his tantrum on the bad days. If he brings his club form to the Irish stage, an unfortunate chapter will be immediately consigned to history.