IRELAND MIDFIELDER David Meyler last night backed James McClean’s decision not to play with a poppy on his jersey last Saturday.
The Cork native is currently on loan at Hull City from Sunderland where he is a club team-mate of McClean’s.
The former Derry City winger is at the centre of an controversy in Britain after the Derry native played in his side’s 2-1 loss at Everton in the Premier League on Saturday but elected not to wear a shirt with a poppy motif, as his team-mates did.
The Black Cats insisted it was McClean’s own choice though the decision and Meyler too reckons the choice should be left to the player.
“James is James. James is his own man and I respect his decision,” said the Leesider, who joined Steve Bruce’s Tiger’s last week.
“Obviously his friends and family were involved in the Bloody Sunday bombings and it’s understandable. I think a lot of people have blown it up a bit too much because it’s not that big a deal for him. It’s a family decision and I respect his decision. He’s a very close pal of mine. I think people in England have jumped on the bandwagon a bit too easily and they’ve come out and nailed him and hammered him. It’s a bit unfair.”
Asked by reporters in Malahide if it was fair to to ask players to wear the war remembrance symbol, Meyler added: “James showed that if you don’t want to wear it, you don’t have to wear it. That was James’s decision.
“A lot of the other players probably wore them because they chose to wear them and that’s just the way it is. The club don’t force you to really do anything. It’s just the way it was at that time.”