Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland has admitted that he was guilty of ‘misleading’ his club, country and supporters about his withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland squad.
Ireland returned to Manchester on Sunday morning having informed his manager Steve Staunton that his grandmother had died, when in fact his girlfriend had suffered a miscarriage.
“When the game ended our manager Stephen Staunton took me outside the dressing room into the corridor, along with the Ireland team doctor,” he told the club’s web site.
“He told me that they had taken a call from my girlfriend, Jessica, and she said my grandmother had died.
“I immediately rang my girlfriend to get more details. My girlfriend was distraught and explained that she had just suffered a miscarriage.
“Jessica said she was very lonely and wanted me to come home. She said she thought they might let me home quicker if they thought my grandmother had died.
“When I finished the call I told the manager and doctor that my grandmother had died and because we were very close I wanted to go home immediately.
“The manager said that was no problem and he would get the FAI to sort it out.
“The FAI hired a private jet to get me home and I flew out of Bratislava the following morning. Before I left I told the FAI media officer that the name of my grandmother was Patricia Tallon.
“Early on Monday morning I got a phone call from Stephen Staunton telling me that the FAI had discovered my grandmother in Cork was not dead.
“He wanted to know what was going on and I told him that there had been a mistake and it had been my father’s mother. I told him her name was Brenda Kitchener, that she lived in London.
“On Thursday, I got a phone call from Manchester City stating that the FAI had discovered that my grandmother, Brenda Kitchener, was also alive.
“I decided at that stage that I must tell truth and admit I had told lies.
“I realise now that it was a massive mistake on my part to tell the FAI and Manchester City that my grandmothers had died and I deeply regret it.
“The miscarriage that Jessica suffered last Saturday has caused both of us a lot of heartache and had caused us both to panic.
“It was wrong and I sincerely apologise, particularly as I caused a lot of problems for many people.
“I would like to apologise to my grandmothers and all my family for any distress I have caused them. Ireland manager Stephen Staunton, my Ireland team-mates, the backroom staff and the FAI also deserve my profound apologies.
“I truly appreciate that the extraordinary lengths they went to put my welfare first and ensure I got home from Slovakia as quickly as possible.
“I am also sorry for causing Manchester City any embarrassment and apologise to the supporters of both Manchester City and Ireland for misleading them and the media.
“I love playing for my country and am grateful for the understanding Mr Staunton and the FAI have shown to me since I told them the truth.
“I have learnt a valuable lesson from this mess and hope those I have hurt by my actions will forgive me.”