Gibson glad to see back of ruthless Trap
Everton midfielder has no regrets about his exile from Irish international set-up, as he tells Garry Doyle
It is three years since Darron Gibson's last confession, a period of time when he's changed his game, his club and, most significantly, himself. The sullen, introspective Gibson of 2010 has gone and today's version is fully aware that his year in hibernation from the Ireland team has damaged his reputation.
So he offers you his time – ignores a call from Wayne Rooney during the course of the interview, subtly placing his phone on silent – and allows you to hear his anger and see his vulnerability. "Do you know what? This has been great, just being able to open up and reveal how I've felt," Gibson said.
"A year ago, I couldn't have done this, even with mum and dad. After Poland, they asked me what went wrong over there and I couldn't even speak to them about what happened."
What happened was nothing happened. The tournament Gibson hoped would launch him into the eyes of the world simply passed him by. Before he knew it, the curtain came down, the show was over and he hadn't even walked on stage in a bit-part role. "For my sake, I was lucky Italy was the last game because I probably would have done something I'd have really regretted. My head completely went. I could have done anything.
"Had there been another game, it might have kicked off (within the Ireland camp), there might have been a few arguments. But because we literally went back to the hotel, packed our bags and left, not much got said. It was just utter disappointment."
So he left, first for a holiday in Ibiza, then for good. "I still wanted to play for Ireland, but couldn't play for Trapattoni any more. To be honest, I was shocked he stayed on after the Euros because the tournament went so poorly. But he was there when we qualified so it might have been a bit harsh to sack him."
Harshness works both ways, though. Trapattoni may be last week's victim, but it's not that long since he was executioner, the ruthless manager who decided, a week before Euro 2012 began, to axe one of his original squad members, Kevin Foley. At the time, there was a bit of a furore about the Italian's insensitivity but the criticism came with an asterisk attached. It was only Kevin Foley, after all, the reserve full-back.
Within the squad, though, Trapattoni's decision caused deep unrest. "We couldn't believe it," says Gibson. "Personally, I didn't think it was right and a lot of players were bothered by it too. If he wasn't going to bring him then why didn't he leave him out of the original panel? To cut him adrift in the manner he did was wrong.
"But that was Trapattoni for you. There were communication issues. If a player didn't go to him with a problem, you'd never get an explanation. I tried to speak to him after the Spain game and asked, 'Look, why didn't I get a run?' He said, 'You are young'. And that was that. He walked away. I was shocked, didn't know what else to say and just stood there watching him walk down a corridor. I felt so embarrassed."
If his inability to relate to Trapattoni hurt then so did the barbed comments directed at him on twitter. Yet he bit his tongue, deliberately refusing to criticise Trapattoni while he was still in the job. Now, though, the dynamic has changed.
"Trapattoni's command of English wasn't such a big deal to us," says Gibson. "In team talks he'd point to a screen and we'd get his message. But on the training field, there were times when we hadn't a clue what he was on about. The other major issue was his absence from club games. Most players wouldn't be that bothered by the fact he was watching them on TV but from my perspective, it would have been nice to know he was watching, especially if I was going well."
Unsurprisingly, he has more time for the other managers he has worked under. Alex Ferguson had that fatherly quality, Roberto Martinez's technical knowledge impresses him and David Moyes earned his respect. "Still it was a good thing Moyes left because he wasn't signing his contract for nearly a year and as players we were ready for him to leave."
As Ireland's players were with Trapattoni.
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