Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

I tried to get Gibson for Northern Ireland, says McIlroy

Sammy McIlroy has described how he tried to persuade Darron Gibson, Manchester United's Carling Cup matchwinner, to play for his native Northern Ireland, only to see the player slip through the Province's grasp by moving directly Northern Ireland under-16s to a place in the Republic of Ireland senior squad.

McIlroy, Northern Ireland manager in the first three years of the decade, said he had told a 14-year-old Gibson, that there would be less competition to play for the North and that youth would not impede him break through into the senior side.

“At the time the Republic were already a bit better than Northern Ireland were and I was going all around west Belfast and the North trying to get anyone but he was the one I wanted,” McIlroy said.

“There was already interest from Manchester United and I said he would get in the side quicker than in the Republic and I think what I said has been proven to be the case.”

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