Manchester City fans’ favourite, Stephen Ireland, has claimed he grew up as a Manchester United fan and had trials with the club when he was a teenager.

However, he reckons that the lack of first team opportunities sparked a decision to join City. There’s no mention of an offer from United though and Ireland did just have a week long trial with us.

Still, there have been times when Ireland felt his time was up with the blues, following harsh criticism from the bitters. “I was shocked at some of the things the fans were saying about me and the way they felt,” said Ireland today. “I discussed it with my girlfriend Jessica and she was also shocked at how harsh the criticism was. We discussed it and started thinking ‘it might be best to leave’. If the fans dislike me that much then maybe I’d be doing them a favour. It stung me pretty bad. There are always some fans who like you and some who don’t, but this was totally one sided.”

Ahead of derby day, Ireland claims he has no regrets about joining City.

“I didn’t know where I stood at United,” said Ireland. “I was there when I was 15 but I just didn’t like it. Every day there I’d be training with a different bunch of kids. I didn’t know who I was meant to be impressing, who my coaches were and I just felt all over the place. I only met Fergie once. I said ‘hello’ to him one day and he knew straight away that I was Irish. He told me he already had enough Irish players with Roy Keane and Denis Irwin, so I guess that was another hint for me to hit the road. I grew up supporting United, so maybe my expectations were too high when I went there. But as soon as I came to City it felt right and I could see myself being where I am now. At United you see so many young players go out on loan, season after season, without making the first-team. I couldn’t do that. I’ve always wanted to play first-team football and thankfully I’ve managed that at City.”

Stephen Ireland is a red…