So he could leave the Irish national team camp and skip a Euro 2008 qualifier against the Czech Republic, Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland claimed his maternal grandmother, who had helped raise him from age 5, had died. The Irish federation put him on a private plane to return home. When the grandmother announced that reports of her death were greatly exaggerated, the 21-year-old said it had been his paternal grandmother who had died. And if he had known it was that grandma, he wouldn't have skipped the game. Well, that grandmother was also able to prove her existence - and she wasn't too pleased to learn her demise wouldn't warrant a national team absence.
Ireland later said the real reason for his desire to return home was that his girlfriend needed support after undergoing a miscarriage.
Manchester City coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said Ireland was "stupid" for making up the excuses, but gave him a five-year contract extension while advising him to see a psychologist.