Ex-Prem star rejected Ireland call-ups as life was ‘shambles’ on just £95-a-week

Former Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland has opened up about his struggles and earning a minuscule amount during his early days as a player.

The attacking midfielder, who’s now retired, enjoyed some great spells in the Premier League, playing for the likes of the Citizens, Stoke City, Aston Villa – and even Newcastle for a very brief period.

But the former Ireland international admitted that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as he was making it in the elite division, saying that he was being paid a tiny amount.

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Ireland exclusively told Ladbrokes' Fanzone: “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.

“But I didn't realise how much time it would take up, and everything that came with playing for the national side. It just happened at the wrong time for me; my life was chaotic, I was single, with two kids, playing for Man City's first-team, I was on £95 a week, I couldn't even afford to go away.

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"The stress, and how hard it was to deal with, it was virtually impossible for me to go away. I must've had 10 call-ups and was able to make one. I couldn't make it; I literally couldn't make it.”

Ireland was embroiled in controversy when his name was omitted from the national side. The whole affair was called ‘Granny Gate’, which took place in 2007.

The player was granted release from Republic of Ireland duty by then manager Steve Staunton on compassionate grounds – meaning he would miss a Euro 2008 qualifier with the Czech Republic. But it emerged that the apparent reason was saying that his grandmother had died.

But it soon became clear that both of Ireland's grandmothers were still alive and well.

A huge media fallout occurred and Ireland stated that he left camp because his girlfriend had suffered a miscarriage.

But the Cobh-born player never featured for the national side again despite being one of the most talented players at the time.The player retired from the game entirely in 2018, earning 305 Premier League appearances in total.


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