Monday 19 March 2018

Darron Gibson: 'I do regret not playing but I was so angry that I didn't get on the pitch for even a second at the Euros'

Ireland exile Darron Gibson is hoping for a recall to the squad now that Trap is gone

Darron Gibson
Darron Gibson

AFTER breaking his silence, it is clear that a weight has lifted from Darron Gibson's shoulders. The Derry man rarely speaks to media, but a promotional event gave him the opportunity to spend time in a Manchester hotel in the company of the Irish press.

He was happy to do so because it provided the perfect forum to announce his return to international football and explain his absence. He's taken plenty of stick on Twitter over the last year and added that his family had also experienced difficulty.

"There were a few times I nearly bit back but I knew if I said one thing, I would have to say everything," he said. "But believe me, I have been thinking about it for a long time.

"If the fans read this interview and they still disagree with me, then I will just have to deal with it. But once they have read what I have to say, I think everything should be alright."

Here's what he had to say about his self-imposed exile from international football, a decision which stemmed from the miserable experience at Euro 2012 which ended his relationship with Giovanni Trapattoni.

Are you agreeable to coming back and playing for Ireland?

"I am, yeah. Obviously, because Trapattoni is gone. I never really wanted to make a big deal of it but after what happened at the Euros, I felt I couldn't play under him any more."

Did you feel he let you down a bit?

"Yeah. To be honest, I was embarrassed when I came back from the Euros, obviously not winning a game and not getting on the pitch.

"I was playing every week at the time for Everton and we finished in the top six of the Premier League and I didn't get on. I felt like he had some sort of problem with me but I felt he had a problem with me before the Euros as well as I never played."

Was not being selected for the Italy game the hardest part to take?

"Yeah, we were basically out. Personally, I thought he would change it and give the lads who didn't play a chance as we had been there for four weeks.

"Do you know what? I went there not expecting to start (the first game) as I thought it was fair that the lads who went all the way through the qualifiers playing deserved their chance. Whelan and Andrews. I was fine with that but I expected to get on the pitch at some stage."

You kept quiet about not wanting to play for him again (post Euros), but did you say it to him?

"I didn't actually put it in those words. I didn't say, 'Listen, I am not playing for you again.' I just said I am not ready to come back after what happened and that was it really. I didn't really have much contact after that."

Any regrets on that?

"I do regret not playing but, like I said, I was embarrassed and I was so angry that I didn't actually get on the pitch for even a second at the Euros, I just felt I couldn't come back and play for him again."

What do you say to the argument that you're a footballer, you're in a squad of 23 and if you don't play, then tough?

"You are right in what you are saying but if you've got a player playing for a Premier League team that finishes in the top six and you have someone – I don't want to show any disrespect to Paul Green – but he had been released from his club and he got on the pitch and I didn't so there was obviously something wrong."

Was it hard to keep your silence?

"I've been getting hammered for the last year, to be honest with you, but didn't want to show Trapattoni any disrespect, because I don't think he deserved that. I just didn't really want to cause a fuss."

A story went around that you were tempted to leave during the Euros..?

"I was never tempted to leave because I thought he would have changed it for the last game, I thought I would have got a chance.

"If I'd gone on against Italy, I would have carried on playing. I thought I should have got on the pitch for a minute at least; I would still have been raging but I would have come back."

There was another story that there was a disciplinary problem before the tournament involving the breaking of a curfew. Is there any truth in that?


There was nothing like that... that was an issue between you and Trap?

"None. I've not heard anything."

Was there communication between yourself and Trap over the last year?

"There was communication right at the very start, around Serbia, and I basically said to him that I wasn't ready to come back.

"After that the only contact between the FAI and me was through the doctor at the FAI and the physio at Everton, that's basically it."

What did you make of the World Cup campaign?

"Disappointing, to be honest with you. I watched every game I could. He didn't really make that many changes. I read Glenn Whelan saying we need more help in midfield; I think that's been part of the problem from the start. In the Euros, against Spain, we played against the best midfield in the world. In my opinion, the only way we had any chance of winning was packing the midfield and trying to close the ball down.

"Obviously it never happened. I'm not one to question what team he picks or what formation he plays but I think if a different manager had been in, we would have had a better chance."

When you saw other younger lads coming in, did you think what might have happened if you'd stuck around?

"I was thinking I probably would be playing and I was thinking to myself, 'maybe I should have gone back.' Obviously looking back now, I do regret it. I stuck to my guns. I didn't want to play under him again."

Did you get on with Trap?

"After the Spain game, I pulled him aside and I said, 'Listen, is there a problem? Is there a reason I'm not playing?' And the exact words he said to me were: 'You're young.' And that was it. He walked off and didn't give me any other reason.

"I'll not lie to you, I'll tell you what happened – he brought me in a week early with the Championship players. I said I didn't want to come in a week early because none of the other Premier League players were coming in. He asked two other Premier League players to come in, who I'll not name, and they both said no as well.

"He let them stay off for the week but he said to me if I don't come in, he's leaving me out of the squad for the Euros. There must have been a problem before going to the Euros – he's not liked me for something that has happened."

I presume when you went to Everton and played regularly, you thought his view would change?

"He said I needed to leave and play more football to play for him. And I left, started playing more football. I felt I improved as a player in the year I had at Everton and still nothing changed."

What did David Moyes say? And Roberto Martinez?

"To be honest with you, he (Moyes) was disappointed in me not going back. He wanted me to go back. I said to him, 'It's my decision and I don't feel I can go back and play under him.' And he said, 'I'm 100pc behind you.' Martinez said to me that I should play international football and I said, 'As soon as the manager goes, I'll be back'."

Do you feel optimistic about the future of the Ireland team?

"We've got some good footballers. The way we played under Trapattoni didn't really show that.

"The likes of James (McCarthy), Seamus Coleman coming in is a good footballer, Glenn Whelan is a good footballer, Shane Long, I think we've got a good group of youngish players coming through. I think we should be alright."

What will Trap's legacy be?

"There will be positives and negatives from it. It's probably positive to be honest, nearly qualifying for the first one, qualifying for the second.

"Obviously it fell apart a bit towards the end but, if the fans sit down and think about it, it's probably positive."

Were players unhappy with the playing style?

"I don't really think there was unhappiness but if you asked if you wanted to play long ball or try and play football, most would say they wanted to try and play football. In my opinion, we would have been better trying to play more football."

Steve Staunton brought you in. Could you compare the way in which the two managers dealt with you?

"There was a lot more communication from Stan, he used to speak to everyone, every day. The way Trapattoni was, he didn't really speak to the players. He turned up, told us what he wanted in training, did the team talk and that was about it, really, he didn't really speak. Obviously, he said hello but nothing football-wise."

Are you ready to come back for whoever the new manager is; even if there's a caretaker for the last two qualifiers?

"If I'm called up, I'll come straight back in. I would love to be involved in the next two games but it's not my decision."

Was there ever a point where you regretted declaring for the Republic?

"No, never, I've grown up supporting the Republic and I've always wanted to play for them."

Have Irish fans seen the best of you?


Are they going to?

"I hope so!"

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