Former Republic of Ireland and Sunderland striker Niall Quinn has had his say on the now infamous clash between Jason McAteer and Michael Owen from last weekend’s Star Sixes tournament in Glasgow.
Quinn was a part of the Republic of Ireland team which shared the tournament’s third-place spot with Scotland, and speaking at the launch of Virgin Media’s spring schedule on Tuesday, the former Sunderland target man explained that he couldn’t believe it when his teammate McAteer saw red in their game against England.
McAteer was involved in a clash with England’s Michael Owen who kicked out at the former Irish international right in front of the referee.
Michael Owen and Jason McAteer going at each other in Star Sixes is GREAT Sunday night viewing 😲 pic.twitter.com/1nU48MmE4Y
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) January 6, 2019
Despite Owen’s kick, it was McAteer who was sent off for his retaliation which Quinn described as a “reach out.”
“We were right beside Michael (Owen) when it happened so we all saw it and heard it even,” began Quinn.
“It was a loud bang when he kicked Jason and there was a bit of a melee and your first thought is, ‘Michael Owen is going to get sent off here, that’s terrible.’
“Then the ref comes over and Jason stupidly, I wouldn’t even call it a kick it was more of a reach out with the sole of his boot which got him the red, but how the referee overlooked what Michael did was unreal because he saw it.
“The referee came on because he saw that and for him to send Jason off was bad enough and then after they got a goal from a freekick that we didn’t think was a free kick 20 seconds later, so the whole audience were flat because Scotland missed out and England got a lucky break!”
Controversy aside the tournament proved to be a big hit with fans who got to see some of the best former home nations’ stars as well as a rest of the world selection that included the likes of Robert Pires and Jorge Albertz.
Quinn outlined that although he found the tournament tough, the opportunity to wear the green shirt again brought all the players back to when they were in their prime.
“I found it really tough going. I went in really to just be the coach, handing out oranges and water bottles but as it turned out we all had to put our shoulder to the wheel.
“Owen Coyle and myself we have 104 years between us!
“It was heavy going at times but it was great, we were looked after really well and the competitive spirit was there amongst the lads, when you put that green shirt back on you turn into something that you were 20 years ago, but the lads showed great spirit.
“We were older than most of the teams and we lacked a bit of young pace but we made up for that in spirit, determination and physicality, Hunty started it off obviously, he was the fella to set the example and we all got stuck in after that.”