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GIBB ME A BREAK IN 2014; SOCCER FORMER U21 ACE FRUSTRATED; Robbie keen to start again next year following a mad couple of years of legal disputes and debilitating illness.


ROBBIE GIBBONS hopes that 2014 ends the "madness" of the last couple of years - as the Ireland under-21 international attempts to reboot his career.

Gibbons wants closure on a long-running wages dispute with former club Alki Larnaca that has been in FIFA's hands for over two years.

His plans for a new start at Scunthorpe United after an eyeopening spell in Cyprus were damaged by a change of manager - then finished when he contracted ulcerative colitis.

It's the same disease that has disrupted Manchester United star Darren Fletcher's career.

But the new year will bring renewed optimism that Gibbons case will be settled by FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber - and that he'll regain full health.

"I miss football," he admitted.

"I've gone from playing every day since I was 15 to doing nothing.

"I was hoping I'd be back by now after a rest but I'm still not quite over it.

"Ideally, I'll return for the Airtricity League's pre-season."

The inflammatory bowel disease took hold for the first time when Gibbons was in Cyprus.

"There's no exact reason for it to occur," he explained. "But stress doesn't help."

His stress levels soon soared after arriving in Cyprus in early 2011.

Gibbons enjoyed a promising youth career at Nottingham Forest - playing centre-midfield in a side that finished Premier League runners-up to Arsenal.

He graduated to Billy Davies' first team squad but was released at Christmas 2010.

"I wasn't playing and when I asked Billy about my situation, he admitted he didn't see a future for me there," Gibbons recalled.

A Forest scout who was a Cypriot got him a trial at Alki Larnaca - a top flight outfit. It went well and Gibbons signed a three-and-a-half year deal.

"I wish now I hadn't taken that advice but I didn't want to play in the lower leagues," he explained.

"Coming up in Forest's youth side we played a passing style - it wasn't long ball and a physical game. And initially I enjoyed it in Cyprus."

The highlight was when Gibbons and another Cyprus-based Irishman, Mickey Collins, were called into Noel King's under-21 squad for a friendly there

Gibbons came off the bench for his international debut at that level.

But from there the move quickly soured amid an ongoing pay dispute between Gibbons and the club.

He eventually quit Cyprus and after a week's trial at Scunthorpe he earned an 18-month deal.

Yet further frustration followed as Gibbons was due for talks about an improved contract when manager Alan Knill was sacked. Negotiations were put on ice as Brian Laws (inset) replaced Knill.

When the ulcerative colitis took hold that November, Gibbons kept it to himself as he worked for the new contract.

He was hospitalised in January when his body gave up. He didn't play again last season and was released in the summer.

Talks followed with Airticity League champions St Pat's but the disease flared up again.

Gibbons decided to take six months off, and says: "Hopefully everything will be resolved soon but getting right again is my priority."


I HAVEN'T KICKED ON Robbie Gibbons played for Ireland's under-21s under Noel King (right) but his career has since stalled
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Dec 17, 2013
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