In September 2007, Stephen Ireland caused a major kerfuffle when he left the Republic of Ireland squad days before a crunch match the the Czech Republic because his maternal grandmother had died. Manager Steve Stanton granted him compassionate leave and the FAI chartered a private jet for his return to Cork.
However, the media did some digging and found that his grandmother was 100% alive and he was forced into an embarrassing apology. (As some kind of karmic punishment for his lie, he went bald shortly afterwards.)
Now that Martin O'Neill and assitant Roy Keane are at the helm of the national team, Ireland is apparently eager to play for his country again. The Stoke midfielder's return is being endorsed by an unlikely source: the grandmother whose death was greatly exaggerrated.
According to the Irish Independent, Granny Ireland happened to be on a flight with Roy Keane this week. She took the opportunity to ask the fiery former Manchester Utd star about a recall for the grandson who once used her demise to skip work:
"Well, I spoke with the grandmother this morning, she was on the flight coming over – and she asked me would he get back involved," said Keane.
"I couldn't lie to her. I said he'd have a chance if he's playing well. I think Martin had a conversation with him, and all that needs to fall into place.
"We wouldn't be shutting the door on any player."
Roy Keane knows a thing or two about being sent home from the Ireland squad in controversial circumstances, so his lack of concern for the granny situation is unsurprising.
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