Ireland: I never want to leave City
Stephen Ireland insisted he never wants to leave Manchester City after signing a new five-year contract at Eastlands today. The midfielder has been rewarded for an outstanding season in which he collected the club's player of the year award ahead of the more illustrious names in City's squad.
"I never had any doubts about staying," Ireland told the club's website. "Regardless, I was going to be here, and hopefully for the remainder of my career. I don't see why not. I really want to become a hero here, to hopefully achieve things. I'm settled here. I love the club, I love the fans and I don't see what's going to make me leave this club."
At this stage last year there were questions over Ireland's long-term future at the club as the academy graduate seemed to lose his way under Sven-Goran Eriksson. But after forcing his way into Mark Hughes' side at the start of the season, Ireland has never relinquished his place despite a total overhaul of the City midfield under the club's billionaire owners.
It promises to be another summer of big changes at the club, but Ireland can be assured of his own place and is looking forward to seeing who else may come through City's doors. "These are very exciting times," he said. "It's going to be interesting just to see what the line-up will be at the start of next season and how far we can push on. Hopefully we can compete for the title and get back into Europe."
"Stephen's new contract is great news for everyone concerned," Hughes said. "He was outstanding all last season and is now one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. He thoroughly deserves all the praise that has gone his way after the hard work that he undertook last summer, and I know that he is already aiming to do even better for us next season and beyond."