Former Northern Ireland international and ex-Linfield goalkeeper Alan Mannus says he meant no offence when he failed to face the Irish tricolour during the Irish national anthem in Dublin.
Mannus was playing for Shamrock Rovers against Dundalk in the FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday when players from both teams turned to face the Irish tricolour during the Irish national anthem, as per tradition. However Mannus did not move, prompting some people to lambast him on social media.
Mark Gill said: “Alan Mannus not respecting our anthemdoesn’t have to sing but respect costs nothing..no class #FAICupFinal”.
But Tadhg Williams from Waterford said it was “the height of hypocrisy” for anyone to defend Londonderry born-footballer James McClean for not wearing the poppy when playing for Stoke City “and then lash out over this”.
Another hit out at anyone complaining about Mannus if they also “bowed their heads and booed the [UK] national anthem in the 2018 Irish cup final”.
But Mr Mannus later said he was “devastated” by the matter.
“I would never try to do anything to make some sort of political statement,” he told the Belfast Telegraph. “I don’t care about that sort of stuff. I have never cared in my life about anyone’s nationality or religion or whatever.
“When it’s not your country’s anthem you normally just stand there and let it play. When everyone turned I didn’t know what to do. I was thinking ‘if I’m not Irish do I turn?’ so I thought I’d just stand the way I was originally facing which I didn’t feel was being disrespectful.”
He added: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing but if I could do again I would do things differently next time.”
The Irish Football Association said there were no guidelines for such matters and that Mannus retired from the NI team last year. Former Irish rugby international and community relations campaigner Trevor Ringland said it seemed he “stood straight and showed respect for the anthem, which is what we did when playing rugby for the whole Island... most reasonable people recognise that and would not ask any more than that”.