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'It Had A Massive Effect On Me, It Shattered My Confidence'

'It Had A Massive Effect On Me, It Shattered My Confidence'
By Gavin Cooney
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The difference between public persona and the reality of what goes on behind the mask is not something that football fans usually concern themselves with. Footballers are in the public eye, they learn to deal with it and they get on with it. And when it's James McClean that is being spoken of, that's probably the case as much as anyone else you can think of.

He's proud of his opinions, he wears his heart on his sleeve and he gets on with it. But the reality can often be rather different.

The West Brom winger has revealed that the abuse he has endured from fans both online and on terraces left him low and bereft of confidence. McClean was quoted in today's Irish Daily Star in which he opened up on how the reaction to his forthright views affected him in the first few years of his career:

Last season was a difficult time. It was a dark time for me. I just want to let the football do the talking now and get people to stop focusing on my actions off the field and get back to talking about what I can do on the field.

It's been a good season for me and I've played virtually every game, bar suspensions. The manager has shown a lot of trust in me and, hopefully, what I'm doing now is repaying that faith.

A few years ago when I started getting abuse, it had a massive effect on me in terms of how I was playing. It shattered my confidence but I've got used to that now and it doesn't bother me as much. If anything, it spurs me on.

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"Bar suspensions" is an important caveat in there. Aside from that, the abuse of McClean is patently wrong. The Irish winger feels he is the victim of media hyperbole, citing his spat with an Everton fan last weekend as illustrative:

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Last Saturday was a prime example when any small action I do, on or off the field, is going to be picked up by the media and the papers are going to make it a lot bigger of a story than it should be.

On Saturday, there was a two second altercation with a fan which, in my eyes, was nothing and then it's in the papers as this big spat.

Happily, McClean is not bothered by his critics and is getting along with a very fine season with West Brom, and is one of the most consistent Irish performers in the Premier League. It's a considerable change in fortunes for the Derry winger, having been booed by Baggies' fans in pre-season.

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We applaud McClean's response to his critics and his knuckling down on his football. That said, we would welcome a few forays into the arena of Irish politics:

See Also: Tony Pulis To Speak To James McClean Over "Touchline Spat" With Everton Fans

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