Belfast Telegraph

Trapattoni gives Republic players the go-ahead to booze in moderation

BY daniel mcdonnell

To booze or not to booze? That is the question and Giovanni Trapattoni has declared that the best policy is to allow his Republic of Ireland players to unwind with a drink after games — provided they do so in moderation.

The Italian has dismissed any suggestion there is an issue with discipline related to alcohol in his dressing-room, stressing that Richard Dunne's private issues with Aston Villa are a club matter rather than something that is of concern to the international boss.

Sporadically, the social habits of the football team have hit the headlines over the last decade, with the issue largely surrounding timing ahead of big games rather than any deep-seated problem

However, Trapattoni has accepted that letting off steam with a few drinks after a game is part of the football culture in this part of the world.

“We're not in prison. And it's better when I allow them rather than forbid them. Then they would have to run off and do it behind my back,” he quipped.

Trapattoni's fellow countrymen Roberto Mancini and Fabio Capello have both spoken about adjusting to the different habits which exist within the British game compared to their homeland but he has insisted that he trusts his men to behave responsibly when they are allowed to leave the relative boredom of the hotel where they spend these weeks cooped up.

“The rules are the rules,” he continued. “There is the moment after game, I allow the players to have one or two drinks. When I say ‘it's time to go to bed', it's time to go to bed.

“You have to trust them. You can't be with them all of the time. You can't go to bed together,” he joked, before adding. “They are professionals, and you have to give them the responsibility.”

The worrying aspect of Dunne's unsavoury fall-out with Aston Villa is that, at the age of 31, he was supposed to have left those days behind him after earlier scrapes at Everton and Manchester City.

However, Trapattoni hinted that the latest incident is perhaps borne from the frustration Dunne is experiencing with his present employers.

The Republic boss pointed out that the central defender had never caused him problems during his time in charge.

“I only look at what he does with us,” said Trapattoni, “When he comes with us, he is OK.

“At every age you can mature, and I think he has a situation at the club with his manager. I'm not worried about this.

“The players in England, they are under pressure, they play two games every week.

“I know the English players like to let off steam. It's not only Richard Dunne, it is other players.

“It's only one day. It's not six days of binge drinking. I say, everything with moderation.”

Getting the balance right has often been a problem, though. You don't have to go too far in Dublin to find sportsmen from other codes enjoying a drink.

Indeed, the allure around the rugby stars is enhanced by the fact that they're living and working in Ireland, and it's therefore quite possible you can bump into them around town.

The stigma around footballers is different, though, and the days of their social habits being kept away from the media, or swept under the carpet, are long gone.

Still, Trapattoni has faith that his squad can conduct themselves in a manner that won't draw attention.

A man who came to Ireland with a vow to change habits has resigned himself to the reality that a zero tolerance policy would do more harm than good.

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