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Kenny Shiels gets emotional

Kenny Shiels gets emotional


Northern Ireland Women’s manager Kenny Shiels caused controversy when he claimed that female players are more emotional than their male counterparts. But isn’t emotion just part of football?

Last week, England’s women thumped Northern Ireland 5-0 in a World Cup qualifier. 

You might recognise the names on the scoresheet. Lauren Hemp and Georgia Stanway scored a brace, while Manchester United’s Ella Toone added another.

It was a tough defeat for Northern Ireland boss Kenny Shiels, and he had a theory about why it happened.

“When a team concedes a goal, they concede a second one within a very short period of time. Right through the whole lot…the whole spectrum of the women’s game. Because girls and women are more emotional than men…so they take a goal going in…they don’t take that very well.”

Guardian Football

You can imagine the reaction.

“In that news conference room last night it was one of those moments as Kenny Shiels was giving that answer…people were looking round the room, wondering, and trying to catch the eye of others…is he really saying that? It was that kind of a feeling in the room of journalists at the time.”

It seemed like, by the end of the press conference, Kenny Shiels had realised the mistake he’d made. He said “I shouldn’t have told you that.”

He later apologised for making the comments, saying he was “proud to manage a group of players who are role models for so many girls, and boys, across the country.”

And his Captain Marissa Callaghan came to his defence.

“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.”

Sky Sports News

But no matter how much the Northern Ireland team – and their Football Association – have tried to downplay what Kenny Shiels said, his comments have hung in the air.

And to an outsider, his words don’t seem like those of an ally.

When making the point he used stats to back it up. So is he right?

The Mail on Sunday compared 111 games in the Premier League and the Women’s Super League. 

It found that male footballers concede their third, fourth and fifth goals more quickly than their female counterparts.

Does that mean that men are actually more emotional than women? 

“I’ve kept really quiet, but I’ll tell you something…he went down in my estimation when he said that. We have not resorted to that. But I’ll tell ya…you can tell him now, he’ll be watching it. We’re still fighting for this title and he’s gotta go to Middlesbrough and get something and I’ll tell ya, honestly, I will love it if we beat them, love it.”

Sky Sports Retro

That famous emotion-fuelled rant from Kevin Keegan was followed by a dramatic collapse by his Newcastle side.

They surrendered a 12 point lead which saw Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United lift the Premier League trophy in 1996.

And there was this from Italia ‘90, when the whole world saw Paul Gascoigne’s tears.

“And it’s going to be a yellow card here for England’s most creative player. It means that should England progress tonight, Paul Gascoigne will miss the World Cup final through suspension.”


Those are among the most memorable moments in the sport. And there’s plenty more to go with them.

One of the best remembered Champions League finals in history saw AC Milan finish the first half three goals up against Liverpool, only to see their opponents mount a remarkable comeback. 

“The 2005 UEFA Champions League final is known as the Miracle of Istanbul. AC Milan and Liverpool served up possibly the greatest ever final in Turkey, a match where sporting destiny took over, resulting in a seemingly impossible outcome.”

BT Sport

Kenny Shiels may have apologised, but it was a strange thing to say in the first place.

Perhaps the emotion of the loss got to him.

Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford and mixed by Xavier Greenwood.