MARISSA CALLAGHAN and Northern Ireland players have given Kenny Shiels their backing after he was criticised for saying “women were more emotional than men”.
Shiels later apologised for the comments made after his side were beaten 5-0 in by the Lionesses in a World Cup qualifier.
Northern Ireland skipper Marissa Callaghan says she and her team-mates “collectively stand by” their managerCredit: Reuters
Shiels apologised for comments he made after Northern Ireland’s game against EnglandCredit: PA
Following the game Shiels, 65, said: “Girls and women are more emotional than men. So they take a goal going in not very well.”
His words came under fire from figures in the game including former England striker Ian Wright and retired Republic of Ireland Women’s captain Emma Byrne.
And team captain Callaghan, 36, says the ‘squad collectively stand’ by their boss who helped the team reach the Euros for the first time ever.
In a statement Callaghan, who has 47 senior international caps, said: “In light of recent events, collectively we stand by our manager.
“We feel his interview was in relation to a meeting we had as a team where we analysed that we concede goals in quick succession and emotions was one of the many things we discussed.
“Since Kenny took over our national team three years ago, I have always complimented him publicly on how he can get the best out of his players individually and collectively.
“He is a man of integrity who cares for us like we are family.
“Kenny has transformed the game here in Northern Ireland because he understands how to get the best out of his players.
“We have qualified for a major tournament because he transformed our mindset.”
Under Shiels’ stewardship Northern Ireland made history by qualifying for the European Championships, the first major tournament the team will compete in.
The side, whose players include Durham ace Sarah McFadden and Crusaders centre-back Julie Nelson, will take on Norway, Austria and England in the Euros group stages.
Their opening game against Norway at St Mary’s will come almost three months on from them playing England in front of a record 15,348 crowd at Windsor Park in Belfast.
On the turnout Callaghan added: “Selling out the National Stadium has been a pivotal moment for the game here in NI and we as players and staff will continue as a team to help grow the game and inspire the next generation of young players and fans.”
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