Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper Alan Mannus has insisted he meant no disrespect by not turning to face the tricolour during the Irish national anthem with the rest of his team-mates before Sunday's FAI Cup final.
The former Northern Ireland international, who was born in Canada and raised in Belfast, attracted criticism on social media from some observers who noticed he had stayed facing forward during Amhrán na bhFiann, in contrast to his team-mates and their opponents Dundalk.
However, the 37-year-old, who saved a penalty in the shootout to help Rovers win the Cup for the first time in 32 years, said it had been an instinctive unsure response to protocol rather than any desire to make a political point.
"I'm so devastated that this happened," the former Linfield and Rangers man told the Belfast Telegraph. "After winning the Cup I should be on a high but to be honest I've just felt nothing but low. I'm not one who likes to be caught up in controversy.
"I would never try to do anything to make some sort of political statement. I don't care about that sort of stuff. I have never cared in my life about anyone's nationality or religion or whatever.
"When it's not your country's anthem you normally just stand there and let it play. When everyone turned I didn't know what to do. I was thinking 'if I'm not Irish do I turn?' so I thought I'd just stand the way I was originally facing, which I didn't feel was being disrespectful.
"Looking back now I guess my actions could be taken in a negative way and I take responsibility. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but if I could do again I would do things differently next time."