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Jermaine Pennant wants to represent Ireland

740   //    09 Mar 2011, 19:48 IST

Can Ireland provide Pennant a new life?

Former Liverpool player and England U-21 international Jermaine Pennant has offered to represent the Republic of Ireland in order to fulfill his international credentials. Having been ignored by the Three Lions time and again, the Stoke City winger has revealed his Irish roots courtesy of his grandfather and would hope to attract the attention of Ireland’s Italian manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

It remains to be seen whether the wily old Trapattoni considers Pennant for the upcoming Carling Home Nations Cup or the crunch EURO 2012 qualifier against FYR Macedonia in Skopje in May and June respectively. Even if the 28-year old former Arsenal and Birmingham City player does get the go ahead to represent the Republic, completion of legal formalities and FIFA clearance would take at least nine to ten weeks making him eligible for the trip to Skopje in June.

Yet, Mr.Pennant is seriously enthusiastic about playing international football for the boys in green. In an interview to BBC Radio Stoke, the temperamental footballer was quoted as saying, I’m 28, I’m not getting any younger and I’d like to play international football, whether it’s with England or Ireland.”

He added, “I’d love to play for England but it’s just never happened. They’re looking at younger, up-and-coming talent which is great for England. Who’s to say that Ireland can’t get to the next World Cup? If I could be a part of that with Ireland, that would be great.”

“If I’ve got a chance to play international football with Ireland, I’m going to take it with both hands.”

The main concern at the moment is while considering Pennant for the Irish national team Giovanni Trapattoni has to consider the attacking midfielder’s unstable past that many believe had hindered the player’s progress as an England international. His erratic behaviour off the pitch had landed him in serious trouble with the law enforcement agencies and ofcourse various managers that had put a lot of faith in him. After playing in the Champions League final for Liverpool in 2007, Jermaine Pennant fell out with Rafael Benitez for turning up late for training having watched the MTV awards ceremony, which was held in Merseyside, all night and two years earlier, while playing for Birmingham, he was imprisoned and had his license suspended for drunk driving.

It remains to be seen whether the Irish would be willing to risk the peaceful international dressing room by bringing in a talented player who has a history of disruptive behaviour both on and off the field. Any media distraction for an individual player could seriously jeopardise Ireland’s chances of qualifying for EURO 2012 next summer in Poland and the Ukraine and the Irish fans would not want that to happen having been robbed of a World Cup spot in South Africa last time out. International glory should be at a premium for Robbie Keane and company.

Considered one of the brightest young English stars, Arsene Wenger signed the then 15-year old Pennant from Notts County in 1999 for a record sum of  2 million pounds, making him Britain’s most expensive teenager at that time. But Jermaine Pennant, capped 24 times by England U-21, has always failed to live up to expectations and his off-field misdemeanours have largely been responsible for his decline in his football quality.

Ever since his loan move to the Britannia Stadium from Real Zaragoza and the birth of his son last year, the winger looks in good touch and if the Irish Football Association and most importantly Giovanni Trapattoni give a look at the Irish heritage of the player, Jermaine Pennant would be fighting for a place in the right wing with established Irish stars such as Aiden Mcgeady, Keith Fahey, Seamus Coleman and Liam Lawrence.

Time will tell whether Jermaine Pennant is a reformed man and his past will have a big influence on Mr. Trapattoni’s decision.

A banker yet lives football and for that reason loves to share my football passion with the world. Aim is to be a professional football writer.
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