Leeds defender George McCartney quit the Northern Ireland international set-up by text message on Sunday night. The 29-year-old, on loan at Elland Road from Sunderland, sent an SMS to Northern Ireland assistant manager Glynn Snodin – also a coach at Leeds – to say he was retiring from international football.
The text message was sent just hours before McCartney should have linked up with the squad for tonight’s clash with Scotland and almost a week after he was named in the squad.
Norn Iron manager Nigel Worthington said: “I was dumbfounded when I found out. I spoke to George on Monday. I asked the question why I wasn’t notified shortly after the announcement of the squad. He was in one of the papers on Sunday saying he was delighted about being in the squad and looking forward to meeting up and lo and behold we have gone full circle.”
The text message marked McCartney’s second international retirement, which is not bad for a player yet to turn 30. He originally quit in 2005 after falling out-of-favour with Lawrie Sanchez, but was brought back into the fold by Worthington.
He also refused to travel to an away match in Armenia in 2003, expressing concern that the plane would be flying within an hour’s flight time of Iraq.