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'It's A Disgrace' - Ex-Irish International On The Mark Noble Saga

'It's A Disgrace' - Ex-Irish International On The Mark Noble Saga
By Conor Neville
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Former Irish youth international Liam George has branded the efforts to bring West Ham's Mark Noble into the Irish set-up 'a disgrace' and said he would rather Ireland not reach the European championships than get there with players who don't really want to play for  the country.

George, who was a key figure in the Irish U-18's European championship triumph in 1998, famously slotting the final penalty against Germany in the final, sounds borderline angry when speaking about the controversy. The word 'disgrace' is emphasised with striking force.

If I'm going to be completely honest I think its a disgrace. Here is a guy that's played for England all his life, he's got caps at U-21, he's played 20 times. Played all the way through. No affiliation to Ireland whatsoever. I just think its cheating an Irish lad who's got a passion for his country and wants to play to represent his country.

If you said to me, you'll get to the Euros with these types of players in place, or not get to the Euros without them, I'd rather not go.

George has already intervened in the debate surrounding efforts to bring Curtis Davies into the Irish fold. A friend of Davies from their time together at Luton, George told Balls.ie that Davies was extremely ambivalent about the prospect of playing for Ireland, given his rather tenuous links to the country. Davies' grandmother was born in Ireland due to her father's role in the British Army in the 1920's. The family returned to England as soon as they were allowed. The FAI launched a charm offensive to bring Davies on board in the early part of this year, but it petered out.


George does not know Mark Noble, but has read up enough to know that the West Ham midfielder has little feeling for the country now requesting his services.


I don't know him personally but obviously I've read up on him. You see him all the time in the Premier League. As far as I'm concerned, and I might be completely wrong, he's stone cold English. I've never heard anyone allude to him being Irish but now that the likelihood that he's not going to get in the English squad ever, now that they're bringing in a new batch. That's why he's looking elsewhere to play international football.

George himself was born in Luton to an Irish mother and grew up in a very Irish household. There was never any question that he would choose to represent Ireland rather than England.

I never got a full international cap but I can honestly say that I'd only ever played for Ireland. A lot of people look at me and say 'well you're as English as they come,' and I say 'No, I've never felt English.' I was brought up in an Irish household, I went to a Catholic school. Everything about me feels Irish, I have no English influences whatsoever, so if I couldn't play for my country, I'm not thinking about anywhere else.

Of the exceptional bunch of players that George came through with, there were remarkably few English accents, and of those that did possess an English accent, they made up for it with real and genuine connections within the country. Possibly the only player from that squad George would consider to be in the Mark Noble vein, was the goalkeeper Alex O'Reilly.

He was very much in that Mark Noble school in that he came from West Ham. He was a London boy. But again he hadn't played any of his younger football for England. And I think that's a massive sign. If you're affiliated to one country for 60% or 70% of your career, I really don't like people than changing. I don't like that. It gets in the way of people developing in that country. It gives people an easy way out. I just think its cheap.

While he is vigorously opposed to the idea, George believes that Noble will be playing for Ireland before long.

I think he will (play for Ireland). The lure of playing international football... I can't see why he wouldn't. England have obviously called up Jack Collback and Fabian Delph. He's probably not going to get anywhere near anyone of those squads. There's a new generation of English footballers coming through. I can't imagine him saying no.

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