Football

8 Players That Turned Down The Chance To Play For Ireland

8 Players That Turned Down The Chance To Play For Ireland

Representing Ireland on the international is a huge honour. There are countless people around the country that would only love to get the opportunity to do so.

Of course, there are some who rejected that chance.

In this article, we are now going to feature players who actually did pull on the green jersey at some point, most notably a couple who may or may not have have recently played at Euro 2020.

Instead, it will be footballers who completely turned down the opportunity to represent Ireland.

Here are seven notable players who did just that.

Players That Turned Down Ireland

Patrick Bamford

Advertisement

This one has long been discussed, but it is looking increasingly unlikely that Patrick Bamford will declare for Ireland.

He has been heavily pursued by both Martin O'Neill and Mick McCarthy, remaining uncommitted on both occasions

The chances have lessened further once Bamford got a sniff of an England call-up after some good form in the Premier League for Leeds over the last 12 months. While that has yet to come, the window in which he would have considered Ireland has now likely passed.

Curtis Davies

Curtis Davies' links to Ireland are tenuous at best, but he did still qualify to play for the country.

Advertisement

His grandmother was born in Ireland while her father was stationed over here as part of the British army, living here for a short time before the family moved back across the Irish Sea. This meant Davies qualified for an Irish passport, although it's fair to say he was never really interested despite some contact from the FAI.

Speaking back in 2014, he said that his strongest link to Ireland was that once drank a pint of Guinness. He also said he could see himself not getting on with then management pairing Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, the latter of which questioned Davies' England credentials on ITV:

I had a Guinness once. My nan was born in Ireland, but she's not Irish, she's English. Her father was in the army and he was in Ireland when she was born. There's no heritage, but I do qualify.

However, I'm not sure after Roy Keane's comments – am I good enough for Ireland? It didn't annoy me, but he's saying I'm not international quality.

Does that mean he thinks I'm not good enough for Ireland? If he doesn't believe I'm good enough for England, then say England. Maybe it was a ploy to steer me away from England.

It's well documented that O'Neill and I had problems at Villa. Is that really going to work? Do I really want to sell myself down the Irish route and then I've got an assistant manager who doesn't rate me and a manager who maybe there is a bit of ill-feeling with.

Unsurprisingly, he would never feature for Ireland.

 

Mark Noble

Advertisement

Noble was another player that was long linked with Ireland, especially as he never really seemed in with a chance of an England call-up despite consistently performing in the Premier League for West Ham.

He had the chance to play for Ireland, but did not feel right about potentially taking that opportunity from a young Irish player when he had no affiliation to the country. He told The Times a number of years ago:

I have had a chance of playing for Ireland - I've been approached and asked. My nan and grandad are full Irish.

But there are Irish boys who would love to play for Ireland, like me with England. I wouldn't put myself into something I wasn't fully committed to. I wouldn't want to take that chance off a full Irish player.

I’m patriotic and I’d love to play for England. I played England U-15 to U-21. A lot of people are talking about me and England. If it happens, it happens.

You'd have to admire his reasoning here.

 

Advertisement

Nathan Redmond

Despite being capped for England in 2017, Nathan Redmond remains eligible to play for Ireland as his only cap came in a friendly match.

Mick McCarthy made an effort to get him on board during his time in charge, speaking to the player's agent. However, he could not even get Redmond in a room to talk about the possibility of playing for Ireland.

The winger qualifies through his grandparents, but has also been linked with a switch to Jamaica in recent months. It seems he has little interest in becoming an Ireland international.

 

Wayne Rooney

Advertisement

The one that got away? Not really, as Wayne Rooney never had any intention of playing for Ireland.

He has a strong Irish heritage, but the current Derby County boss said that he didn't consider playing for anyone apart from England. Both the FAI and Lee Carsley broached the subject on an international switch when he was a 16-year old at Everton, but there was little traction.

Speaking in 2015 ahead of a friendly between England and Ireland, Rooney confirmed pulling on the green jersey was a non-starter for him:

Lee Carsley asked me (on behalf of Republic boss Mick McCarthy) about it and it never crossed my mind.

I have Irish grandparents, so if they wanted to play for Ireland I'm sure they could have, but it was never something I thought about.

I was born in England, I'm English.

 

Jamie O'Hara

Advertisement

Now more known for his questionable takes on Talksport, Jamie O'Hara was once a highly rated young midfielder at Spurs and then Portsmouth.

He was capped by England up to U21 level, although Ireland did make a play to bring him on board.

He was contacted by Liam Brady about the possibility of switching his international allegiances, but turned him down as he felt he still had a chance of playing for England.

Speaking back in 2019, O'Hara said it was one of his biggest regrets.

Advertisement

I was playing with England U21s. I was at Portsmouth and I was having a really good season and Liam Brady approached me.

At the time, I really fancied myself to play for England. I was up and coming, I was only 21, I was involved with the England team, so I turned them down. It's probably one of the ones I regret actually because I have a big Irish family and it was a big opportunity to play for the national side.

O'Hara's career would soon peter out at a remarkable pace, meaning he never got the chance to play international football again.

 

Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce is an outlier on this list in that he actually wanted to play for Ireland, but he was forced to turn down a call-up under Jack Charlton nonetheless.

Advertisement

The centre back famously never won an England cap despite being captain of Manchester United, with an opportunity to represent Ireland presenting itself during the tail end of his career.

Charlton contacted Bruce in 1993 after hearing that his mother had been born in Ireland, asking if he would be interested in throwing his lot in with The Boys in Green.

The defender was interested, but Alex Ferguson had other ideas. He did not want Bruce to declare for Ireland as this would have made him a 'foreign player' under UEFA rules, with teams limited to having a certain number of such players in their squad for continental competitions at times.

Speaking on Goals on Sunday back in 2016, Bruce detailed how this ended any international hopes:

Big Jack Charlton rang me, when USA 94 [was approaching]... Typical Jack he rang me and said 'I've just been on a train and the driver tells me your mother is from Ireland.'

I said 'Yes, Jack.' He said 'Why didn't you tell me before? Look, I'd love to welcome you, we've got the World Cup in USA...

Back in the day, if you were foreign or 'Irish' and that assimilated rule, you could have been a foreigner player for Man U. Sir Alex put the boot into that one.

He said 'You're not going to be foreign.' That was really the end of it.

Bruce's son Alex would go on to play for Ireland in later years, winning two caps in friendly games before then declaring for Northern Ireland.

Advertisement

 

Dave Kitson 

Dave Kitson was a bit of hot property there for a while in the mid 00s. The striker was performing very well for Reading, even being the top goalscorer in the Premier League at one point during his debut season in the top flight.

He was also strongly linked with an Ireland call-up around this time, with then manager Steve Staunton naming Kitson as one of the players he would like to bring on board.

However, the player himself was not all that interested. He turned down the FAI's original advances, claiming he was then contacted by a journalist pretending to be the Ireland manager.

Speaking in The Sun in 2019, he recalled how the whole thing played out.

I took a call from the Irish FA who invited me to play for the Republic of Ireland. I politely declined.

I don’t consider myself Irish in any sense despite the fact I’ve travelled all over Ireland and love the country very much. That made the Irish FA very unhappy.

The following day I took a call from Ireland manager Steve Staunton as I was running out the door to training.

He was very persistent and was imploring me to tell him that I’d at least think about it.

I had no intention of playing for Ireland but to get Steve off the phone I said I’d think about it.

As you’ve probably guessed, it turned out not to be Steve Staunton but an Irish journalist who ran a story calling me a mercenary for having said I wouldn’t play for Ireland and then saying I’d think about it.

It was an absolute stitch-up.

Kitson would go on to receive an England call-up. However, he celebrated by doing so by going on the lash and getting himself arrested.  The call-up was rescinded as a result.

There is no word as to whether the Staunton impersonator got in touch thereafter.

SEE ALSO: Here Are All Of The Irish Transfers That Have Been Completed This Summer

Gary Connaughton

You may also like