End of an Éire | 

Stephen Ireland says he couldn't afford to play for Ireland and ‘envied the lads’ who could

‘I must have had 10 call-ups and was able to make one. I couldn’t make it, I literally couldn’t make it.’

Stephen Ireland

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Stephen Ireland has revealed his short stint on the Irish squad ended when he couldn’t make ends meet.

The soccer star scored four goals during his six cap career for Ireland but it came to an abrupt end in 2007 when the Cork man fabricated a family bereavement to leave the Irish training camp.

The former Man City midfielder has now told Ladbrokes that his life, at the time, “was in shambles.”

"I literally couldn’t make it,” Ireland said, revealing he was on just £95 per week despite playing in the Premier League.

"I envied the lads who could go, because I couldn’t.”

Ireland admitted he thinks he made the international side too young, when things were too “chaotic.”

“I’ve got really fond memories and had some great times but, I think, me playing for Ireland probably happened too early in my career.

"I got into the first team when I was around 18, and I really wanted it, I’m not disputing that. And I think I earned it, too, because I gave it everything,” he said.

"I was single with two kids, playing for Man City’s first team and was on £95 a week. I couldn’t even afford to go away.

"The stress, and how hard it was to deal with, made it virtually impossible for me to go away. I must have had 10 call-ups and was able to make one.

"I couldn’t make it, I literally couldn’t make it,” he confessed.

"How is that even possible? As a young kid, playing in the Premier League, how was I not able to make it?

"My life was just a shambles, to be honest with you. It was so chaotic and unfortunately I couldn’t commit to an international career, as much as I would have loved to.”

The former Man City player reflected on what could have been, saying he gets “frustrated” looking back as he never reached out for help.

“It’s just a shame, because I had so much to offer. I could have given the team so much. But at the end of the day, that was my bed and I had to lie in it.

"If my debut had come maybe two or three years later, when everything in my life was where it needed to be, then maybe things would have been different.

"It was just too difficult a time for me to put 100% of my heart into it.”

The ex-footballer told Ladbrokes he has been really shocked by the reaction of fans when he returns to Dublin, saying he “doesn’t deserve any recognition from them. I certainly don’t expect anything.”

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