ANY lingering hopes that Stephen Ireland may yet return to the international arena appear to have been ended after the Manchester City star hit out at Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni over the weekend.
The 23-year-old labelled Trapattoni ‘‘arrogant’’ and suggested the Italian wasn’t really interested in convincing him to end his self-imposed international exile which now stretches to September 2007.
Trapattoni kept his counsel about Ireland’s remarks over the weekend but is believed to have taken a dim view of them.
However Trapattoni is sure to be questioned on the issue on Friday when he names his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Montenegro.
Ireland, who played in City’s 4-3 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford yesterday, met Trapattoni last season but claimed the Italian’s motive for meeting him were self-serving.
“When I met Trapattoni for a chat last season I felt there was a lot of arrogance going on,’’ Ireland said.
“We were in the middle of chatting and he kept leaving the room to answer one of the four phones he had on him.
“We didn’t speak after that until this summer, when he called me. But I think he made that call for his own benefit, rather than mine.
“He said: ‘Is it ok if I tell the press that 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 talking about meeting up with me to announcing it to the press I knew what his agenda was.’’
Ireland added that even the prospect of Ireland reaching next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa wouldn’t be enough to make him reconsider his international stance.
“Even with the prospect of a World Cup, it hasn’t crossed my mind once about going back. I have never felt part of the squad and I never will.
“When I watch Ireland games it’s weird. It’s like I was never there and I don’t miss it at all."
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