Football

'It Shouldn't Be A Career Choice. You Are Either Irish Or You're Not'

'It Shouldn't Be A Career Choice. You Are Either Irish Or You're Not'

Gary Breen believes that international football should not be used as a vehicle for players to further their club careers.

The former Ireland international was brought up in Camden Town but has a strong Irish identity. He spent his summer holidays in Kerry and Clare. After Ireland's win against England at Euro '88 he turned up to school in an Ireland shirt - that was not a problem in a school full of Irish kids. Breen says he 'literally bounced into school that day.'

Speaking on Newstalk's Off The Ball last night, Breen said it 'infuriates' him to see players switching international allegiance.

I'm actually quite strong on it. It shouldn't be a career choice. You are either Irish or you're not. You shouldn't have the opportunity to choose 'I'd like to play in a major championship, maybe I can do it for Scotland, Wales, whatever.' If you don't have that affiliation to that country, you shouldn't play for them and I think that has to be decided at FIFA level because it infuriates me because for me it meant everything.

I remember growing up as a kid and my Dad and my uncle would take me to games and I would idolise that '88, '90 team, Paul McGrath especially. That was all I ever dreamt about. As young players, many players talked about playing in FA Cup finals as a pinnacle of a career but mine was always to play for Ireland and just fortunate and blessed that I got the opportunity to do it so often.

The 63-cap Ireland international added that he cannot understand how some players can pull on a shirt at international level to which they have no strong emotional connection.

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It just galvanises you and takes you to a different level and I don't understand how someone could pull on a shirt that they had no feelings for because quite often early on in my career at under-21 levels, I'd be singing the national anthem but I had to make a decision - I know a lot of supporter say 'why didn't you sing at major championships' - because I couldn't. It was too emotional.

For under-21 games, I'd be welling up crying nearly and I don't know why because I'm not an emotional guy and suddenly it would take me five or 10 minutes to regain my composure.

Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE

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PJ Browne
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