STEVEN REID’S decision to concentrate on his club football at West Brom is not only Ireland’s loss but also Celtic’s, the midfielder having confirmed that, before deciding to sign for the newly promoted Premier League side on a permanent basis, he had been close to a move to the SPL.
Reid, who announced his international retirement yesterday, was at The Hawthorns last season on loan from Blackburn Rovers and helped the club get back in the top-flight at the first attempt.
But he admits that, before he decided to commit to the Baggies for a further two years, he’d given considerable thought to signing for Celtic.
Said the 29-year-old: “I would be lying if I said there wasn’t an interest there (from Celtic) and I went up and had a look around. With my Irish connection, there was an affinity with Celtic and it was a big pull. Had West Brom not been promoted, that could have made a difference as you want to play in Old Firm games. But I weighed everything up, looked at the standard of the two leagues and signing for West Brom was a much better move. The Premier League is the best league in the world and I’m glad I’ve got at least another year at that level.”
But for recurring injury, Reid would almost certainly have added considerably to his haul of 23 caps and, although facing what seemed an uphill battle to regain his international place, suggests that he only made the decision to officially step down from Irish duty with reluctance.
“It was tough because I’ve had some terrific times with Ireland,” said Reid. “But having weighed everything up, I know this is the right decision. The injuries I’ve had over the past couple of years have been well documented and I’ve taken this step to prolong my club career and to spend more time with my family. It’s a decision I came to after lengthy discussions with the club’s medical staff and my family.
“I’ve had some unforgettable times with Ireland, the highlight being making two appearances at the World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea in 2002 and it has always been a huge honour for me to wear the Irish jersey. It’s just a shame my injuries cut short the number of caps I possibly could have won over the past few years.”
He added: “I wish the squad every success for the forthcoming European Championship qualifiers and thank the players, the backroom team and the management for their help, support and friendship over the past nine years. I would also like to say a massive thank you to all the Irish fans for their support. They always got behind me and it was an honour to represent them.”
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who last year found himself embroiled in a war of words with Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce over the player’s fitness, expressed his regret at Reid’s decision.
“We are sorry to hear about Steven’s decision to retire from international football to concentrate on his club career at West Bromwich Albion,” said the Italian.
“His commanding presence for the Republic of Ireland will be missed by his team-mates and fans alike. Steven always showed tremendous commitment to the Irish jersey even during difficult times in his career and for that we thank him most warmly. On behalf of the Irish team, we wish Steven well for his future club career and thank him for his outstanding commitment.”
Ireland skipper Robbie Keane — who played with Reid at the 2002 World Cup — said: “Steven was always a great player to have around on and off the pitch. His talent and experience was invaluable in midfield and on a personal level, it was always a pleasure to play alongside him. On behalf of the squad, I’d like to wish him all the best for his future career.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved