Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan has released a statement expressing the team's collective support for manager Kenny Shiels following his post match comments about 'emotional women'.
Speaking after Northern Ireland's 5-0 loss to England on Tuesday evening, where the hosts shipped four goals in the second half, Shiels stated that women's teams have a habit of conceding a number goals in quick succession because women are more emotional than men.
"In the women’s game, I’m sure you will have noticed if you go through the patterns, when a team concedes a goal, they concede a second one in a very short period of time," the Northern Ireland boss said. "Right through the whole spectrum of the women’s game, because girls and women are more emotional than men. So, they don't take a goal going in very well."
Shiels' comments were met with criticism from the likes of Ian Wright and Women in Football, and he has since apologised.
Northern Ireland are currently preparing for Euro 2022 - their maiden major tournament - which kicks off in July, and Callaghan insisted the team are fully behind Shiels heading into the summer.
"In light of recent events, collectively we stand by our manager," Callaghan wrote on Twitter. "We feel his interview was in relation to a meeting we had as a team where we analysed that we concede goals in quick succession and emotions was one of the many things we discussed.
"Since Kenny took over our national team three years ago, I have always complimented him publicly on how he can get the best out of his players individually and collectively. He is a man of integrity who cares for us like we are family.
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"Kenny has transformed the game here in Northern Ireland because he understands how to get the best out of his players. We have qualified for a major tournament because he transformed our mindset.
Shiels' comments marred what had been a historic night for women's football in Northern Ireland, with the World Cup qualifying clash against England at Windsor Park attracting a record crowd of 15,348.
"We look forward to the next few months as we continue to prepare for the Euros this summer," Callaghan continued. "Selling out the National Stadium has been a pivotal moment for the game here in NI and we as players and staff will continue as a team to help grow the game and inspire the next generation of young players and fans."