Interim England manager Stuart Pearce confirmed he regretted his racist jibe at Paul Ince 17 years ago and insisted he is a changed man now.
During one stormy encounter between Nottingham Forest and Manchester United, Pearce clashed with his England team-mate Ince and the heated exchange included the use of an insult from Pearce that would certainly land him in very hot water if it was uttered now.
At the time, Pearce apologised, and he said on Thursday: "It's certainly something I regretted at the time. What you were and what you've said 17 years ago is certainly no reflection of what you are today. It was something I apologised for at the time, a one-off mistake."
He added: "Society has changed a great deal over the years. A lot more is being done especially in our profession - and rightly so - in regard to anti-racism, and I do everything I can to help."
That it was even raised as a talking point was evidence, for Pearce, of the profile that comes with being England manager.
After all, he has been in charge of the England Under-21 squad since 2007 and was also named manager of the Great Britain Olympic team and no mention was made of this murky period in his past.
"It was a scenario 17 years ago which was seen fit to be brought back up," he said.
"I found it a little bit sad, to rehash a story from all that time ago.
"Regarding the incident, myself and Paul have no ill feeling towards each other.
"We competed in Euro 96 together and four months ago I sat next to his wife watching his son Tom playing at West Ham in my capacity as under-21 manager."