Friday, March 13, 2009

Worthington gets it wrong, again!

The Northern Ireland football manager Nigel Worthington has yet again shown his inability to grasp the concept of ‘being Irish and representing Ireland’, when questioned about FIFA and Sepp Blatter’s continued support for Irish players from the North of Ireland representing and playing for Giovanni Trapattoni’s all-island international team.

He also failed to see the contradictions and inconsistencies in his own, and his associations’ constant gripe of investing money and coaching hours in players who decide to represent Ireland, rather than the Belfast based team.

The IFA are actively targeting players from outside the North and have recently been bombarding training academies and English lower league clubs with letters trying to persuade anyone to come and play for their team. Worthington’s comments from the recent press conference when he said "It is important that no-one can come in and pinch our best players” seem quite laughable considering their own current policy.

The interesting part of the whole eligibility issue is the decision of Worthington and his management team to actively beg and poach young English Internationals from under the noses of the English Football Association, even though the players have already represented England at under 17 and under 19 level. And it made Worthington's recent comments sound all the more bizarre, He said "so from our own point of view we have to make sure that when we invest in young talent and put a lot of coaching hours into it, they are available to play for their own country".

No complaints about the funding and training hours spent by English youth coaches on players like Oliver Norwood or Chris Stokes, who are being actively targeted by the IFA. Yet Mr Worthington and his employers complain about born and bred Irishmen playing for Ireland !!!!

And the IFA stance on eligibility has taken a further twist recently with their support of Foreign-born players becoming eligible to play for Northern Ireland eventhough the players would have zero blood ties to the North.

Nigel Worthington still seems unable to fathom or accept the fact that for a large proportion of the footballing public in the Northern part of the island, their international allegiance always has, and always will lie with Trapattoni’s Ireland and not Worthington’s Belfast based team.

And the outworking of this is naturally that players Like Darron Gibson, Marc Wilson and others in the past, and the future, will look to represent the team they grew up following and supporting. And this is best represented by Antrim born Ireland under 21 international Marc Wilson who said recently:

"I think everybody has their own personal reasons for wanting to play for the Republic or the North. I grew up supporting the Republic so it was a comfortable decision for me."

It’s quite simple really.

Perhaps someone could explain to Nigel Worthington that for many thousands of football fans in the North of Ireland the concept of ‘representing or supporting your country’ is more to do with cheering on Giovanni Trapattoni's Boys In Green and little to do with a visit to Windsor Park.

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