Northern Ireland striker David Healy has hit out after death threats were made against him on the internet. In a recent post-match interview, the Sunderland player welcomed an international goal he had scored by saying 'the famine is over'.
Healy's goal for Northern Ireland in last week's 4-0 victory over San Marino was his first in the campaign. After the match a smiling Healy told Ulster Televison: “I am pleased to score, the famine, the drought, whatever people would call it is over, and am so pleased to be on the scoreboard.”
But the Healy's comments were portrayed as a reference to Rangers fans' chant - "‘the famine is over, why don`t you go home?" - which has hit the headlines in recent weeks.
A video clip of his post-match interview on Ulster Television placed on an internet site has received thousands of hits and spawned online threats against the player.
Healy said: "I made reference to famine and people have maliciously represented those comments.
"I am hugely disappointed in this. I am very angry.
"Those innocuous post-match comments about scoring for Northern Ireland were maliciously hi-jacked and posted on You Tube and other websites inferring that I was in some way, making reference to a song known as the ‘Famine Song' which has been sung by a section of the Rangers support at Old Firm games.
"My comments have been taken so completely out of context it would be laughable if it wasn't so offensive!
"I’m sure any real football fan will see that there is absolutely no connection between my football related comments and this song.
Above: One of the 'chilling' messages about David Healy
"I’m so disappointed and upset that anyone could even try and make this link. And when told about this I was I was totally bemused. "
UTV have since replayed the entire interview to show its context was harmless.
Healy attracted criticism in July when he mimicked playing the flute - a reference to Orange Order parades - during a friendly match between Celtic and Fulham, who he played for at the time.
Healy made an immediate apology for the incident which he said came after he was heckled by Celtic fans.
Healy YouTube clip