Sport Soccer

Monday 20 November 2017

'Stephen was young and made a huge mistake,' Ireland's partner Jessica wants him to return to Republic squad

Stephen Ireland and Jessica Lawlor
Stephen Ireland and Jessica Lawlor
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

STEPHEN Ireland’s partner, Jessica Lawlor, said she is “optimistic and hopeful” that the midfielder will play again for his country.

Ireland (27) hasn’t played for the Republic since his spectacular falling out with the FAI when he missed a match against the Czech Republic after claiming both his maternal and paternal grandmothers had died.

Both were still alive but the footballer was desperate to return to his girlfriend in the UK who had just suffered a miscarriage.

Despite continuing to star for Manchester City, Aston Villa, Newcastle and now Stoke City in the Premiership, Ireland has not been recalled to the squad by Steve Staunton, Giovanni Trapattoni or Martin O’Neill.

But the mother of his three children said she believes the time it right to sort out the “complications” over her husband’s Republic recall.

“We were both young and naïve. You make mistakes when you are young. Obviously we didn't handle it in the right way and we regret that now,” Jessica said.

“But we cannot live our lives around that now. We have three kids that need our attention. Our lives have moved on and everyone makes mistakes.”

“People go through difficulties and when you do you don’t think properly and you make mistakes. That’s what we put it down to. But we have moved on as a family and it all seems like a lifetime ago because so much has happened since.”

“Stephen wanted to be there to support me. He regrets it now. He was young and made a huge mistake. Now, I want him to be remembered for good football.”

Jessica said the couple now focuses on the future and positive aspects of their lives including the prospects of his international recall.

Her comments came after the Republic’s assistant manager, Roy Keane, was last week confronted by one of Ireland’s grandparents in Cork and challenged about his recall.

“She was on the flight coming over (with me)…she asked me would he get back involved. I couldn’t lie to her – I said he’d have a chance if he’s playing well,” Keane said.

Jessica said she is convinced Stephen will play again for the Republic.

“He is at the peak of his career now. He is almost 28 so he has quite a few years left. We are optimistic with it (an international recall). We would love it to happen obviously,” she told Redfm.

“I think Stephen is ready for it. But there are so many complications to it…it cannot just come from Stephen. It depends on the Irish squad and whether they want him to play. There are two sides to it. We will have to wait and see what happens but hopefully it will happen.”

The couple, who are based in Manchester, regularly travel back to Cork to meet up with relatives and friends.

But Jessica said that, while engaged, she hasn’t set a wedding date.

“We are engaged but we have no date set. I am very laid back about it to be honest. I still feel a bit young to be called a wife even though I am 29 this year. I think the next couple of years (it will happen) definitely.”

“We don’t know whether to do something abroad where the weather is nice or in England or Ireland so everyone can come. We are really torn about it.”

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