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Shane Long Was Furious After 'Degrading' Move From Stephen Kenny Early In Ireland Tenure

Shane Long Was Furious After 'Degrading' Move From Stephen Kenny Early In Ireland Tenure
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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Stephen Kenny was not afraid to shake things up during his time as Ireland boss.

Upon getting the job, he made it clear that he wanted to usher in a new era for the team. That meant blooding young players, pushing out a number of older squad members as a result.

Many of the youngsters that were brought in were immediately vaulted into the team, a move which certainly raised a few eyebrows at the time. It was a long-term view that needed to be taken, although it appears that the way it was carried out did not necessarily go down well with all of those involved.

Shane Long recalls 'degrading' Ireland moment under Stephen Kenny

Shane Long had a fantastic career with Ireland, earning 88 caps and scoring 17 goals at international level. While he has never officially retired, it seems unlikely that the 36-year old will return to the Irish fold again in the future.

His playing time steadily decreased over the last half decade or so, culminating in being left out of the squad by Stephen Kenny on a number of occasions. As it turns out, he knew early in the new manager's tenure that he was going to be phased out.

Speaking on the Kay and Ash: Share Your Voice podcast, which is hosted by his wife Kayleigh, the Tipperary man said there was moment in particular that stood out.


In an attempt to welcome new players into the squad, Kenny was keen to introduce a new tradition where senior squad members would ceremonially present jerseys to new additions. This was not an issue for Long, although he was not happy when he was told to hand over the number nine kit to Adam Idah.


After all, he had sported that number for a number of years and felt it was a bit disrespectful for a new player to be immediately granted what is normally a prestigious honour within the squad. Here's how he summed up his emotions at the time.

When you come into the ranks you get a high number in the Ireland squad. You kind of earned your number in the squad.

And after Kevin (Doyle) had gone to America and left international football I was given the number nine shirt. I was so proud to have that number and I had it for years...

He (Kenny) wanted to start a new tradition of welcoming new players.

So Seamus Coleman steps up I think he had Dara O'Shea and gives him the number 23 jersey. Randolph steps up I think it was Caoimhin Kelleher he gave the jersey to, another high number.

Then I stepped up and it was Adam Idah, and I was delighted because obviously he's from Cork City, he's a bit of a culchie like myself.

So I gave a speech and I held up the shirt, and on the back it was number 9.

I remember just handing that jersey over and I just wanted to storm out of that room. If it was at club level I would have left that would have been me gone.

That was a manager making a statement.

13 October 2020; Shane Long, left, and Adam Idah during a Republic of Ireland Training Session at Helsingin Olympiastadion in Helsinki, Finland. Photo by Jussi Eskola/Sportsfile

Adam Idah was essentially made Ireland's first choice striker immediately after joining the squad, moving up from the U21s at the same time as Stephen Kenny.


It's difficult to think that this move was not a statement from the manager, who could have quite easily allowed the then Southampton man to keep the squad number he had worked so hard to earn.

This may seem like a rather trivial matter, but Long said that it was actually quite 'degrading' for him to hand over the jersey in front of the rest of the squad.

When Robbie Keane retired, Robbie Brady was in the squad for a long, long time, he was desperate for No. 10, so then he got the No. 10 and wore that to the Euros.

It was just the traditional way, you had to earn that number in the squad, to have it taken away and handed over like that was embarrassing and degrading.

I spent so many years trying to earn that number. That was one of the lowest. I didn’t want to take away from Adam, it was a big moment for him.

I went straight to the kit man and asked him who picks the numbers, and he said the gaffer. So I knew then that the writing was on the wall...

When it’s Ireland and it’s your country you don’t want one man to ruin that for you. I wanted to get every cap I could for my country and enjoy every minute on that pitch, that one was a tough one to swallow.

It seems as though he still holds some ill will towards Stephen Kenny for the way this was handled.

If that is the case, you could certainly understand his reasoning for doing so.

SEE ALSO: Ireland's Anselmo Garcia MacNulty Opens Up On International Future Amid Spain Links

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