'I'm so devastated that this happened' - Shamrock Rovers hero Alan Mannus explains Irish flag move
Alan Mannus has insisted he did not mean to cause offence or disrespect to anyone after not turning to face the Irish tricolour during the Irish national anthem ahead of Sunday's FAI Cup final in Dublin.
Former Northern Ireland star Mannus was the hero for Shamrock Rovers in their penalty shoot-out success over Dundalk but rather than focus on his goalkeeping excellence social media was awash with comments about him staring straight ahead while the other 21 players turned to the Irish flag as Amhran na bhFiann was played.
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A popular figure in dressing rooms wherever he has played, the ex-Linfield and St Johnstone ace said: "I'm so devastated that this happened. After winning the Cup I should be on a high but to be honest I've just felt nothing but low. I'm not one who likes to be caught up in controversy.
"I would never try to do anything to make some sort of political statement. I don't care about that sort of stuff. I have never cared in my life about anyone's nationality or religion or whatever.
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"When it's not your country's anthem you normally just stand there and let it play. When everyone turned I didn't know what to do. I was thinking 'if I'm not Irish do I turn?' so I thought I'd just stand the way I was originally facing which I didn't feel was being disrespectful.
"Looking back now I guess my actions could be taken in a negative way and I take responsibility. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but if I could do again I would do things differently next time."
The 37-year-old, who was born in Canada before moving to Northern Ireland with his family when he was seven, told the Belfast Telegraph that he was sorry to anyone who saw his actions as being offensive or disrespectful.