Ireland denies critical comments
Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland says he has been "misquoted" after conducting an interview in which he was apparently critical of Gerard Houllier, the city of Birmingham and his home city of Cork.
French publication So Foot reported Ireland describing Birmingham as a "crap city" and questioning the methods of Houllier, who allowed him to join Newcastle United on loan in the January transfer window.
Ireland was also quoted as saying he would "rather shoot myself" than live in Cork, as well as describing Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni as "arrogant" as he explained his reasons for abandoning international football.
However, the Villa midfielder claims the comments attributed to him by the French publication do not accurately reflect his views.
"I'm upset with what has been printed this morning because I feel like I've been portrayed in the wrong way," Ireland told skysports.com in a statement issued by his agent. "I was misquoted and things have been blown way out of proportion. That is the reason why I feel like I needed to say something because the quotes are very unfair.
"What I said during the interview has been twisted to sound particularly blunt and a lot of what was written about my hometown of Cork - which me and my family visit regularly - was just plain ridiculous.
"The comments regarding Birmingham were also taken way out of context as I had only been at Villa a few months and didn't even live there so I have no idea what Birmingham is like to live in and everyone I have met from Birmingham has been nice, my girlfriend's father is from Birmingham so why would I say that, it's just crazy.
"I can only apologise if anyone was offended, but the way the interview was written made me sound very harsh, and I am not that kind of person."