Hearts striker Liam Boyce reveals why he won't play international football again

Hearts striker Liam Boyce has revealed why he has decided to quit playing international football for Northern Ireland and is unlikely to return.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 25th April 2022, 6:02 pm

The 31-year-old, capped 28 times by his country, hasn't played since beginning a self-imposed exile eight months ago and admits it's now unlikely he'll ever pull on the green shirt again.

The experienced frontman has impressed for the Jambos this season but feels he needs to be with his family rather than jetting off every couple of months on international duty.

He is putting his wife Leoncha and son Scout (5) and daughter Ziggy (1) before international football, which often involves ten days away from home.

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Liam Boyce celebrates his equaliser on the stroke of half time at Tannadice as Hearts fought back to beat Dundee United 3-2

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough has confirmed there have been no fall-outs and Boyce revealed that the national team boss has been very understanding.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: “I don’t know. In football you can never say never. It has been a tough year off the pitch. My son has been born and my daughter started school and all the time away and being in hotels for 10 days with everything going on back home, it was something I couldn’t do. I wouldn’t have been able to be away.

“I want to support Leoncha. She has done everything for me to do what I have done in football my whole life and I thought I had to be there for her and leave the international football for a while.

“I understand that people want me to play but with my daughter growing up, I didn’t want to miss her going to school and with my son coming along and then other stuff going on with my family, it is just the way it has to be.

“Bara has been unreal. He has kept in touch with me and I have told him the reasons behind my decision. He has been very understanding and has said to me about always putting your family first. He has been so good.

“It’s been a privilege to get to play for Northern Ireland and be involved with good teams and meet all those good players. I’m proud of that and I know how much playing for Northern Ireland has helped me. Also with international football, you get to experience and go to places you would never ever be. It’s unbelievable.”

Boyce was prolific in front of goal early in the season and after a recent dry spell scored his 16th goal of the campaign against Dundee United on Sunday. He has an outside chance of becoming the first Hearts player since John Robertson 30 years ago to hit 20 goals in a season.

But Boyce admitted: “I should probably have done it already because I have missed some chances and a penalty. For me though, it is about the team winning rather than me scoring goals. I wouldn’t score again if we won every match that I played for the rest of my career.

He added: “It’s brilliant at Hearts. I always want to play where you are wanted and appreciated because it makes you try even harder. It’s good to be in a good place where people want you to play and support you. That’s one of the best things that can happen in football when you know the supporters are backing you.”

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