SUNDERLAND WINGER JAMES McClean has identified one of the reasons why he chose to play for the Republic rather than Northern Ireland in an interview today.
Speaking on Off the Ball, McClean described how Catholic players “feel as if they’re not wanted” when playing for the North
McClean said: “You see all all the flags and sectarian chants, and you don’t feel part of that.”
His words come in the wake of his decision to leave Twitter, after receiving a torrent of sectarian abuse recently.
The player also said his decision to play for Northern Ireland at under-21 level was made purely to help his career, adding:
“When you get an international call-up when you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Wow, it’s international football.’”
The player recalled how growing up playing Gaelic football had helped give him a “tougher mentality” that has enabled him to thrive in soccer.
Similarly, speaking of his much-praised attitude to the game, he said:
“I have the mindset that at the end of the game, I want to be the best player on the pitch.”
And in relation to his recent inclusion in Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad, McClean explained:
“I’ve made the squad, that’s an honour in itself, but I don’t want to make up the numbers.”
The 23-year-old has been a revelation at Sunderland this season, and has just been named the club’s Young Player of the Year.