Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper Alan Mannus has said he is devastated at the fallout from his decision to not face the Irish flag before Sunday’s FAI Cup final against Dundalk.
The northern Protestant, who was actually born in Canada, has claimed he did not mean to cause any offence or disrespect by not facing the flag during the Irish national anthem.
On the day, the former Linfield and Northern Ireland shot-stopper proved to be the hero as his penalty save ensured Shamrock Rovers’ first FAI Cup triumph in 32 years. However, rather than celebrating his heroics, social media was awash with comments highlighting Mannus’ refusal to turn and face the tricolour.
Following this, the former St Johnstone goalkeeper told the Belfast Telegraph that he is devastated by the reaction and didn’t mean to cause offence.
“I’m so devastated that this happened. After winning the Cup I should be on a high but to be honest, I’ve just felt nothing but low. I’m not one who likes to be caught up in controversy.
“I would never try to do anything to make some sort of political statement. 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.
“Looking back now I guess my actions could be taken in a negative way and I take responsibility. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but if I could do again I would do things differently next time.”
The 37-year-old has officially apologised to anyone who saw his actions as being offensive or disrespectful.