Darron Thomas Daniel Gibson (born 25 October 1987) is an Irish footballer who has played for Manchester United, Royal Antwerp and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In 2007, Gibson, who was born in Derry, was at the centre of a dispute between the Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Football Association, after he opted to play for the Republic of Ireland instead of Northern Ireland.
The issue was referred to FIFA and has even been discussed in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
A former pupil of St Columb's College, Gibson played junior football in the Derry and District League, and then with Institute F.C. before joining Manchester United in 2004.
He made his senior debut for United on 26 October 2005 in a League Cup game against Barnet, coming on as a substitute for Lee Martin. During the 2005-06 season he played regularly for Manchester United Reserves, helping them win a treble. He made 19 appearances, scoring twice. In May 2006, he won the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Award as United's youth player of the year and then played regularly for the United senior team during their pre-season summer games.
Together with Dong Fangzhuo, Jonny Evans, Fraizer Campbell and Danny Simpson, he was one of several United players who spent the 2006-07 season on loan at Royal Antwerp.
In October 2007, he was loaned out again, this time to Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he spent the majority of the 2007-08 season.
Gibson made his Premier League debut on 15 November 2008, appearing as a second half substitute against Stoke City, before making his UEFA Champions League debut ten days later, coming on as a substitute for Darren Fletcher against Villarreal on 25 November 2008. On 4 January 2009, Gibson scored his first goal for the club, firing home United's third in a 3–0 victory over Southampton in the FA Cup Third Round.
Together with Tony Kane, Michael O'Connor and Marc Wilson, Gibson is one of several Irish footballers, involved in an on going dispute between the Irish Football Association and the Football Association of Ireland over international eligibility. The dispute emerged after the Good Friday Agreement allowed people born in Northern Ireland to claim either Republic of Ireland and/or United Kingdom nationality. As a result, Gibson has been selected to represent both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at international level.
Gibson initially represented Northern Ireland at Under-16 level and was included in Victory Shield squads. However, he was dropped from the team after attending trials with Manchester United and subsequently switched allegiance to the Republic of Ireland.
Before Gibson made his senior international debut for the Republic of Ireland, Nigel Worthington, the Northern Ireland manager, tried in vain to persuade him to switch his allegiances back.
Republic of Ireland
Gibson first represented the Republic of Ireland at under-17 level. Then during the 2005-06 season he captained both the Republic of Ireland under-19 and under-21 squads.
On 14 November 2006, he also played for Republic of Ireland B in a 0-0 draw against Scotland B.
In 2007, Gibson was included in several senior Republic of Ireland squads for Euro 2008 qualifiers,before he eventually made his debut in a 4-0 win against Denmark. During the away friendly, he came on as half-time substitute, replacing Andy Reid. In the 54th minute, Gibson fired a shot from outside the penalty area that the Danish keeper, Jesper Christiansen, could only palm away, allowing Shane Long to follow up and score the Republic's third goal.
Gibson won his second full cap on 8 September 2007 in an away game against Slovakia. The Euro 2008 qualifier, which finished as a 2-2 draw, saw him again used as substitute, this time replacing Aiden McGeady after 61 minutes.
Gibson made his first start for the Republic of Ireland national team in a 1–0 win at home to Cyprus on 15 October 2008. After Steven Reid dropped out of the Irish squad due to injury, Gibson was called up to provide extra physicality in the centre of the Irish midfield. Manager Giovanni Trapattoni also cited Gibson's confidence on the football pitch as the reason for choosing him ahead of Liam Miller and Andy Reid.