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'I still get stick. If I go out in Glasgow, you've got a Tartan Army fan who'll have a go at me'

Aiden McGeady discusses his decision to play for Ireland and his strained relationship with Gordon Strachan.

McGeady in action for Ireland in March.
McGeady in action for Ireland in March.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

SCOTLAND-BORN IRELAND international Aiden McGeaday has spoken out about how he still gets ‘stick’ over his decision to play with Ireland rather than his birth country.

The 31-year-old qualifies through his grandparents, and when a rule preventing young Celtic players from lining out for Scotland’s Schoolboys led to Packie Bonner inviting McGeady to train with Ireland’s U15s, he grabbed the opportunity with both arms.

He went on to rise through the Ireland underage ranks and made his senior international debut in a 2004 friendly against Jamaica.

But McGeady admits that he still gets hassle over his decision.

“I still get stick,” the Sunderland winger said in an interview on Open Goal. “I still get stick if I go out in Glasgow, say on a night out or that. You’ve got a Tartan Army fan who’ll have a go at me still.”

He opened up about what he went through at Celtic, and spoke about what motivated his decision at senior level.

“I took it as a compliment. You know, when you’re going away to Tynecastle, Ibrox and Fir Park, they’re booing you when you get the ball,” the Sunderland winger told fellow ex-Celtic youth player Simon Ferry on Open Goal.

Take it as a compliment because if they didn’t rate you, if they didn’t realise you were a good player, they wouldn’t bother.”

“Obviously, the whole Ireland situation happened when I was younger and I ended up choosing Ireland because Scotland said I couldn’t play for them at that age and Ireland never had that same policy.

“I ended up being comfortable, playing U15, U16, U17 and it was only really when I got in the first team at Celtic it was like, ‘Why is this guy playing for Ireland?’ They tried to get me back to play with Scotland and I was like, ‘No, I’m happy with Ireland.’ I’ve grew up with these guys and to now go back on it…

“I still get stick for it. In a way I look at it now and I go ‘I played at two Euros, you know what I mean; I played at two major finals.’ Obviously, Scotland haven’t qualified for anything for a long time. It’s just the way it is.”

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2004 was also the year McGeady broke into the Celtic first team under current Ireland manager Martin O’Neill.

Aiden McGeady and manager Gordon Strachan at the final whistle McGeady and Strachan after Ireland and Scotland's Euro 2016 qualifer. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

His relationship with O’Neill’s successor Gordon Strachan wasn’t quite as rosy though, and he also discussed that at length in the interview.

“We played Rangers at Ibrox and he [Strachan] stuck Paul Lawson on the bench ahead of me. I was raging. Tommy [Burns] pulled me aside and told me to show a little respect and to back my team-mates, which was fair enough.

“I went to go and see the manager on the Monday after and he just said, ‘Nah, you’re not for me, you’re not my type of guy, you think you’re ahead of yourself’. So I asked to go out on loan and he said no. So I went back to playing reserves every week.

“I won him over just through working hard and keeping my head down. Eventually he came to see a reserve game and he pulled me aside and said, ‘Well done, you’ve turned it around for yourself’. After that I was playing.

“Me and Strachan, it was probably just a clash of personalities. I thought he singled me out a lot of the time. Unfair criticism and things like that.

“I felt I had to be playing well literally every single game to stay in the team, where as other players got a bit of leniency. Our relationship was always a bit strained.”

You can watch the full interview here.

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Emma Duffy

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