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August 19 2017 10:06 AM
Jon Walters has opened up about how his mother's death led to him declaring for Ireland.
In a detailed interview in today's Ireland edition of The Times, the Burnley striker describes the devastation of losing his mum Helen to cancer when he was just 11 years of age and how Amhrán na bhFiann still triggers memories for him to this day.
"When my mother died, I promised I'd play for Ireland for her," he said.
""It's very emotional when I hear the Irish national team. It was a very tough time. We didn't know (how ill she was) until a couple of weeks before she died. We got pulled in, and told this was going to happen with mum. I remember crying for two days, non-stop.
"I went to see my mum in the hospice after she passed away, and the next day, I went straight back to school, carried on as if everything was alright.
"F**king hell. My dad didn't know what to do so he sent us into school to try and carry on being normal.
"My mum was almost a taboo subject after she passed away. A few years back, my auntie Paula did say, 'You okay? 'Yeah, I'm okay. But I still haven't dealt with it. I didn't grieve.
"I'm really interested in psychology because I know how everything's up there in your head in football. fear, whatever. When I finish playing, I'll take myself off to a university (to study) psychology. It'll help me."
The English-born 33-year-old also revealed how a speech given to him by Roy Keane when he played under the Corkman at Ipswich has motivated him to succeed at the top level at both club and international level.
"Everything I do is not for me. It's for the kids, for my wife," he added.
"When Roy Keane was manager at Ipswich, he had a rant in the dressing room. We'd had a bad game and Roy said, 'You're not playing for yourselves. You're playing for the friends you grew up with, who say, 'I know him, I used to play with him, I used to go to school with him'. You're playing for the people you grew up with on the streets. You're playing for your cousins. uncles and aunties. You are playing for all those people who are so proud of you.' That stuck with me. It's true."
Walters also divulged why his Blackburn Rovers career ended prematurely.
"Here's another one I've never spoken about... why I left Blackburn. It's always there, always bothers me.
"I was absolutely flying, one of the top scorers (in the youth team) but I was very lonely. Dad used to never watch me play. Ever. I was used to mums and dads watching (their sons). This will probably hurt him. I don't mean to. But he never used to come. It upset me.
"I did something very stupid at Blackburn. I stole money from someone. That's why I left Blackburn. No one knows this. I didn't need the money.
"I had a contract, lived there, didn't spend any money. It was a cry for help. What happened at Blackburn wasn't me. I was brought up right. I wasn't from a rough family. It haunts me a lot. So, so stupid."