Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton has moved decisively to scotch the persistent public impression that he is a Liverpool fan.
Sexton referred to Liverpool’s 2005 famous Champions League comeback against AC Milan following Leinster’s own remarkable European Cup final comeback against Northampton in 2011.
And it was widely assumed he had used Liverpool’s revival to inspire his teammates in an impassioned speech he gave at half-time in that final.
“I’m a United fan. I made the mistake after the game of mentioning that match, but I didn’t actually didn’t say that in the dressing room. I just said that, in big finals in sport, teams come back
"I have a lot of Man United friends who texted me, abusing me.
“I did a thing with John O’Shea last week and he thought I was a Liverpool fan. For him to think that killed me.”
Sexton was speaking to Matt Cooper in an interview on Today FM’s The Last Word.
He admitted football was his first love and named Paul Scholes and Roy Keane as players who would have coped well at out-half.
“Roy didn’t play in that number 10 role, but he very much controlled games in his own way.”
SEXTON ON IRELAND’S DISAPPOINTING WORLD CUP WARM-UP
“There is that ‘what if you get injured’ hanging over you. I can’t say that before the England game, you‘re not thinking one knock here and I’m gone for four years.”
“There needs to be a bit of edge. A bit of doggedness. And that probably wasn’t there.
“We trust the coaches we have that we’ll be ready for Canada and peaking towards the back end of the pool."
SEXTON ON SETTING WORLD CUP TARGETS
“We don’t sit down and talk about goals. One of thing things Joe does; we have values we try to live by day-to-day. If a guy doesn’t live up to those values, he’ll be called out by one of his teammates or a coach and be put in his place.
“We like to think if we look after each day Monday to Friday, the Saturdays will look after themselves and competitions will look after themselves.”
“Not once did we ever speak about winning a Six Nations or a Grand Slam.”
“When I first started working with Joe (at Leinster), I hated the fact we didn’t set goals, didn’t sit down and say we wanted to win the Heineken Cup.
“I had a couple of arguments with him about it. He won the arguments and he proved me wrong. That’s the way he works and I’ve become accustomed to it myself.”
SEXTON ON GOLF
“My grandfather played for Ireland, played Walker Cup and won big amateur competitions.
“He broke the course record in Miltown and I still have his scorecard.”
“I was mad into golf. I play off 6 but I was off 4 or 5. Very much in decline.”
SEXTON ON IRISH CAMP GOLF COURSE CHICANERY
“There’s some bandits. Like Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney, who play to single figures but have outrageous handicaps.”
“The smallest thing puts him (Paul O’Connell) off … shaking keys in your pocket on the backswing.”
SEXTON ON GAELIC FOOTBALL
“I’m ashamed to say I never played a proper match. Half the family are Kerry, half Dublin and all are mad Gaelic supporters.
“I was always playing rugby or football on Sunday morning.
“I loved soccer, then rugby took over at young age
“It’s a big regret of mine. I’ve such admiration of GAA players these days. I’ve watched big games in Croke Park."
“The kicking is worlds apart. In a thing I did with Stephen Cluxton, I had to kick a football. I was brutal. It’s a totally different technique.
“The Gaelic football is so different, so much heavier.
"Cluxton wasn’t bad (kicking a rugby ball)."
SEXTON ON THAT KICK V NEW ZEALAND
“I’ve thought about it a lot. It’s difficult to put a finger on it. I hadn’t done a lot of practice that week because of injury.
“But didn’t feel any more pressure on that last kick than the first kick in game.
“In the Aviva, the wind comes in over the small end, so it can come in over your left shoulder.
“If you try and change your line halfway through a kick or if you start thinking about what the wind’s going to do, that can be a factor.
“In the season after, I had a kick from exactly the same spot in four or five internationals, all to go two scores clear. And that kick was to go two scores clear. So I’d like to think I learned from it.”
SEXTON ON BECOMING A COACH
“Sometimes, I think I’d love it. Then others times, dragging your family around the world.. A coach has a lifespan of five or six years in one place.”
SEXTON ON HAVING ROG LOOKING OVER HIS SHOULDER IN 2011
“It wasn’t ideal looking back. But I wouldn’t change anything, because I learned so much working with him. I learned some harsh lessons that made me stronger today.
“We became great buddies.
“Paris is an amazing city but it can be a lonely place.
“I’m not sure how long he’ll be there for. I think he’ll come home and coach in Ireland.”
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