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30th Mar 2023

Shane Long speaks about ’embarrassing and degrading’ moment under Stephen Kenny

Robert Redmond

Shane Long Stephen Kenny

“When it’s Ireland and it’s your country, you don’t want one man to ruin that for you.”

Shane Long has said that Stephen Kenny subjected him to an ’embarrassing and degrading’ moment in a Republic of Ireland camp.

Long has said that the Ireland boss gave away his squad number to Adam Idah. The Reading striker said he was furious about the incident and hurt that a newcomer had been given the number 9 jersey ahead of him.

Long felt he had earned the prestigious squad number through his years of service. The Tipperary native has played 88 times for Ireland and scored 17 goals.

Shane Long speaks about ’embarrassing and degrading’ moment under Stephen Kenny

“It was late in my Ireland career,” Long said on his wife Kayleah’s podcast – the Kay and Ash: Share your voice podcast.

“It was late in my Ireland career. So, obviously, when you come into the ranks you get a high number in the Ireland squad. I remember Kevin Doyle was number nine, Richie Dunne was number five, and Robbie Keane was number nine (10).

“Going back over the years it was Gary Kelly number two, and Ian Harte number three. You kind of earned your number in the squad.

“Once Kevin (Doyle) had left international football and gone to America, I was given the number nine shirt. I was so proud to have that number, and I had it for years.”

Long, however, says he was hurt when Kenny gave his squad number to striker Idah, who currently has 14 caps and has yet to score for the national team.

The striker, 36, only found out mid-way through an initiation routine that he had lost the squad number to Idah.

“Stephen Kenny called me, Seamus Coleman and Darren Randolph,” the Reading striker said.

“He wanted to start a new tradition of welcoming new players, give them their first Ireland jersey.

“I had a little speech saying how proud I was to make my first appearance, just introducing them to the team, which I thought was a great idea.

“So Seamus Coleman steps up, I think he had Dara O’Shea and gives him the number 23 jersey.

“Randolph stepped up, I think it was Caoimhin Kelleher he gave the jersey to, another high number. And then I stepped up and it was Adam Idah.

“And I was delighted because obviously, he’s Cork city, he’s a bit of a culchie like myself! A young guy, big potential.

“So, I gave a speech and I held up the shirt, and on the back, it was number 9.

Shane Long: It was ’embarrassing and degrading’ to hand over the number 9 jersey.

“I remember just handing that jersey over and I just wanted to storm out of that room. And if it was at club level I would have left, that would have been me gone. I didn’t want to take away from Adam. That was a manager making a statement.”

“I rang Kayleah, she’s my sounding board and she was raging as well. Adam hadn’t made an appearance for Ireland, he hadn’t earned the shirt.”

Long went on to say that the jersey number meant a lot to him, as it was something that he had to earn over a long period in the squad. He called the experience “embarrassing and degrading.”

“When Robbie Keane retired, Robbie Brady was in the squad for a long, long time, he was desperate for No. 10,” Long said.

“So then he got the number 10 and wore that to the Euros. It was just the traditional way, you had to earn that number in the squad, to have it taken away and handed over like that was embarrassing and degrading.”

“I spent so many years trying to earn that number,” Long continued.

“That was one of the lowest. I didn’t want to take away from Adam, it was a big moment for him.

“I went straight to the kit man and asked him who picks the numbers. He said, ‘The gaffer’. So I knew then that the writing was on the wall.”

Long was asked why he didn’t walk away from the Ireland set-up after the incident. The Tipperary native that he didn’t want to let ‘one man’ prevent him from playing for the national team.

“When it’s Ireland and it’s your country, you don’t want one man to ruin that for you,” Long said.

“I wanted to get every cap I could for my country and enjoy every minute on that pitch, that one was a tough one to swallow.”

Long last played for Ireland in 2021 and was not in the most recent squad for the matches against Latvia and France.

Last May, Kenny said Long’s international career wasn’t finished.

“He’s been an amazing player for Ireland, someone we really value as a person in Irish football history,” the Ireland manager said.

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