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Stephen Ireland


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What an utterly deluded fool.


Would have been nice if the journalist had asked him about his two 'dead' grannies or the Irish players reaction when he turned up for the squad with a hair transplant. Might have been more illuminating but the interview reads like something where he has final copy approval and was conducted with the t***s agent sitting in the room.


Stephen Ireland exclusive: I will NEVER play for 'arrogant' Trapattoni - even if Ireland make the 2010 World Cup/b]


Stephen Ireland has ruled out a return to the international scene - even if the Republic of Ireland make next summer's World Cup.


The Manchester City star branded Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni "arrogant" and said that had made him more determined to stick by his decision.


Ireland has not played for his country for two years, standing by his self-imposed exile after revealing he hated meeting up with the squad for international duty.


While his former international team-mates are preparing for Saturday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Italy, Ireland will be spending time with his girlfriend and young family.


And in an exclusive interview with Mirror Sport, Ireland blamed Trapattoni's perceived arrogance for making him even more determined to stay away.


"Even with the prospect of the World Cup, it hasn't crossed my mind once about going back," said Ireland. "I never felt part of the squad and I never will.


"I met Trapattoni for a chat at a hotel near Manchester Airport last year but that did nothing for me.


"It made no sense whatseover. In fact, I felt like there was a lot of arrogance going on, so I just felt like I wasn't really interested.


"Me and my financial adviser, who's looked after me all my life and is someone I really trust, sat down with Trapattoni, his right-hand man and Liam Brady.


"In the middle of chatting, like we are now, he'd have four different phones going off and he kept leaving the room to talk to people.


"He'd come back, say 'sorry where was I?' but then another one would go off and after the third of fourth time this happened, I head another phone ringing.


"Trapattoni went over to where the phone was ringing and got it out of one of his bags. We were just sat there like, 'what is going on?'.


"After that we had a chat and, I guess he shouldn't have to sell it to me. But I think he should have made some sort of effort to sell it to me, and he just never really did that.


"I think he felt like I'd just want to come running back, because I think at the time he didn't rate me as a player.


"But that was before last season. Since then he hasn't spoken to me once. Then, over the summer, Ireland had a game away against Bulgaria.


"A week before that game I was in my garden, playing with the kids. I answered my phone by accident, as I was checking the time, and it was Trapattoni.


"He asked me if there was a possibility of meeting up in the future. I hadn't given it any thought, but I said guess there was no harm in meeting him.


"I thought he meant in the next few days, for the Bulgaria game. I said 'when?' and he said 'four months'. I thought that was weird, but I said I suppose it wouldn't do any harm.


"But I think he made that call for his own benefit, rather than mine, because he said to me 'Is it okay if I tell the Press I've spoken to you and there's a chance of you coming back?'.


"I said 'you can tell people we've spoken and maybe we'll meet up in the future, but don't say there's a chance of me coming back because there probably isn't'.


"As soon as he switched from taking about meeting up with me to announcing it to the media, I knew what his agenda was."


Ireland famously lied about the deaths of two grandmothers to be excused international duty, and was ridiculed when his deceit was exposed.


But he candidly admitted he had never enjoyed being away on international duty, from when he was an aspiring teenager coming through the Ireland ranks.


"My parents encouraged me to play and said it was really important for my development," said Ireland.


"I played for the Under-14s, Under-15s and so on. But as soon as I came over here and signed my contract with City, I said 'that's it'. I rejected going to a lot of the squads.


"I got called up to the full squad under Brian Kerr, then we had a massive fall-out. I stayed away for two or three years, which was a blessing in disguise.


"Then Steve Staunton called me up, and I'd just broken into the City team, so I felt I had to go. But after two or three squads I was thinking 'what am I doing here?'.


"There were times I'd finish a game with City at 8pm, then I was meant to meet up with the Ireland squad at 10pm in Dublin.


"I'd just ring up and say I don't feel well. There was nothing wrong with me, I just had no intention of ever going. I just never enjoyed it.


"I know fans will say 'well every other player does it', and that's fine, fair play. But I'm not bothered.


"A lot of the lads here at City didn't think I'd stand by my decision not to play for Ireland and I was like 'told you so'."


Ireland admitted he still watches his country on television whenever they play, but said he felt so removed from the international scene it is as if he was never involved.


"When I watch Ireland games it's weird," he said. "It's like I was never there and I don't miss it all if I'm honest.


"People forget that I only played six games. I just seem to be into the routine and the mindset that when the international break comes around, I'm not there.


"I love being able to do things with my kids. During the last international break they were about to start school, so it was nice to take them away for a few days


"When the international break comes around it's like 'great, what am I doing with the kids', not 'oh I hope I'm not in the squad'.


"A lot of people would probably think I'd love to go to the World Cup, but to be honest it hasn't really crossed my mind once.


"I hope they get there, it would be great for the country if they did. It would be a massive achievement for the manager and the players."


Despite being a rarity in terms of his refusal to play for his country, Ireland claimed more players will follow his lead in the future, with internationals losing their pull.


"Personally, I think internationals are going to be something of the past," he said. "The pride of it and all that, I just think it's getting lesser and lesser.


"Players these days don't see as pride in their country, they see it more as a chore, you know 'God, I have to go again'. That was the way it always was for me.


"I think you'll be surprised how many players - young ones at that - who will retire from international football after the World Cup.


"Look how many games they play a year, and all the pressure from club football, it's hard to see many playes really enjoying international football any more."

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