Healy flute mimic ‘light-hearted’
Published 21/07/2008 | 16:29
Northern Ireland star striker David Healy today said that he did not mean to cause any offence by playing an imaginary flute at Craven Cottage in London at the weekend.
The 28-year-old football hero, who was warming up for his side Fulham in a pre-season friendly against Celtic on Saturday when the incident happened, also said he thought it was a light-hearted gesture.
Fulham went on to beat the Scottish champions 3-1.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Healy moved to squash speculation that his actions were anything but good-natured.
“When I was warming up there was a lot of stick and banter being directed towards me from the Celtic fans,” he said.
“I guess it was to do with me playing for Northern Ireland and having said in the past that I supported Rangers.
“The banter was going on for a while and someone shouted out about what I had been doing on the Twelfth. In what to me was a light-hearted gesture I pretended to play the flute.
“Certainly I did not mean to cause any offence to anyone. That is not my way and certainly was not my intention.”
Healy, who is Northern Ireland’s most popular sporting star and was recently awarded an MBE, said he joked with Celtic fans after the incident.
“I actually signed autographs for Celtic fans who were directing the banter towards me and it was all very friendly. We had a laugh about it,” he said.
“I have a lot of respect for Celtic and have written in the past in my Belfast Telegraph column of my admiration for their supporters.
“Again I repeat I did not mean to cause any offence.”
Footballer Paul Gascoigne sparked controversy back in 1998 after making a similar gesture during an Old Firm match.
His actions were viewed as provocative because Celtic fans are traditionally sympathetic to the Irish nationalist cause.