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Post  Guest on 2012-11-18, 11:57 am

Prima Donnas?


A story with a difference..

STEPHEN Ireland has opened his heart to reveal the caring family man behind his flash image as a Premier League primadonna.

Ireland is renowned for his outlandish cars and the Cheshire home he shares with girlfriend Jessica Lawlor was recenty dubbed the “tackiest house in Britain”.

In his days at Manchester City, Ireland was spotted driving round in a souped up Range Rover with pink wheels while his partner had a customised Bentley.

But Villa’s latest signing insists his public perception is far removed from his actual life, which included him being a doting single dad as a teenager.

Ireland was a 19-year-old earning £200 per week at Manchester City when he split with the Irish mother of his children, Joshua and Jessica, and won custody.

“I couldn’t bear the thought my kids would be raised in a different house, in a different country, without me being involved,” he said.

“I wouldn’t have kids and not raise them so I fought for custody. The kids stayed with me. There was no way I was letting them go.

“I was 19 when this was going on, Joshua was two, Jessica was 10 months and I was a single father.

“I didn’t drive then and had to get taxis everywhere. I would drop them off to the nursery in the morning, do my training, get home, clean the house, get everything prepared, cook, pick them up from the nursery, feed them, play with them, put them to bed and start again the next morning.

“It was the time I was trying to break into the first team at Man City. I don’t want anyone saying ‘Well done, you were prepared to raise the kids on your own’.

“But what I would say is that I don’t see that many men who become fathers at 17, have two kids at 19, and then start to bring them up as a single parent.

“Any footballer would have thought ‘I’m single, let me party for a bit and live my single life, I’ll pay whatever maintenance is necessary’.

‘‘I did the opposite. For a year or so I wouldn’t allow any girl near the kids. I couldn’t afford to have different girls in my kids’ lives.

“After about a year, Jess came along and I just knew she was right for me and for my two kids. It’s been the best decision I’ve made.”

Ireland is now settled with Jess, the mother of his youngest son Jacob, and their family residence was recently criticised in a tabloid paper.

The writer produced a sneering piece about the supposedly garish decor of the mansion, which includes a fairytale princess room, a personalised pool table and a shark-sized acquarium.

“It’s easy to look at some photos in a magazine and make a judgment,” said the 24-year-old. “But if the girl or the guy or whoever wrote that came to my house and had a look round, they would write totally the opposite.

“Many people have been in our home and they are all gobsmacked by how nice it is. Me and Jess built this house and we’re totally happy with it.”

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