STEPHEN KELLY HIT back at Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni this morning as the public row over the defender’s international future took another turn.
A shocked and disgusted Kelly said comments made by Trapattoni yesterday were “untrue and unwarranted” and insisted that he will always be available to represent his country.
The row came to a head in the aftermath of Ireland’s 2-0 win against Poland when Trapattoni was asked if Kelly would be considered for next month’s qualifiers against Sweden and Austria. The Italian questioned Kelly’s international commitment and claimed that the Reading man did not want to be involved with the national team unless he was guaranteed to play.
“He said, ‘I play or I go home,’” Trapattoni explained, referring to a dispute between Kelly and management ahead of the trip to Faroe Islands last October. “Go home.”
The angry criticism was described by Kelly in a statement this morning as an attempt “to defame my commitment and loyalty to Ireland.”
“It is extremely disappointing for me to have to make this statement,” Kelly, 29, said.
I am simply shocked and disgusted with the untrue and unwarranted comments made by Giovanni Trapattoni. These hurtful and untrue comments have caused distress and upset to myself and my family who have supported me throughout my career and know the level of commitment and passion I have always shown in representing my country.
I have proudly represented Ireland from the age of sixteen, and I have never shown anything other than 100% commitment to my country and my team. I cannot and will not tolerate attempts to defame my commitment and loyalty to Ireland.
Representing Ireland at senior international level has given me some of my proudest moments in my professional career, and for me captaining my country will always be my greatest achievement.
It saddens me greatly that I should have to defend my good character and reputation in a profession I love, however, I refuse to allow anyone to question my passion for representing Ireland. I will continue as always to proudly be available for my country.