Football

James McClean Sends Message To Anyone Considering Using Ireland As A 'Stepping Stone'

James McClean Sends Message To Anyone Considering Using Ireland As A 'Stepping Stone'

If theres one thing you can say about James McClean, it's that he is a proud Irishman. The Stoke winger gives his all every time he pulls on the green jersey, and his enthusiasm in playing for Ireland can be infectious for fans and players alike.

Certain events in recent times have led some to question the desire some have to play for Ireland, with the Declan Rice saga at the forefront of the debate. It is claimed that many players simply see Ireland as a backup option should their first preference at international level fail to come to fruition.

Speaking to RTÉ ahead of tonight's Euro 2020 Qualifier against Georgia, McClean spoke about Rice's decision to commit his international future to England and sent a message to anyone else who considered to do something similar in the future.

He said he was a proud Irishman. Then he said he was a proud Englishman. If he's both... good luck to him but I don't buy it. I think you're either one or the other.

I was with Derry City when I got the call-up to play for the North and I turned it down because it's not my country, it's never been my country. I'm an Irishman.

It's not just Declan, it's anyone else. If you're not proud to be here and we're a stepping stone then sod off and play for someone else.

I'm an Irishman. I grew up on the island of Ireland, simple as that. We only want players here who want to play for Ireland, who feel Irish and are proud to be Irish.

Ireland were hardly convincing in the opening game of this campaign, limping to a 1-0 win in Gibraltar. McClean said the conditions in that game made it difficult, but acknowledged that performances would have to improve.

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It's easy to sit home when you're not playing in those conditions and say, 'well Gibraltar are ranked where they are, you should just steamroll them'. If you're asking me do I care, well I don't. We went and got three points and that was the job we had to do going there, so job done.

The fans have been great, The ones that fill the stadium are the true supporters and they've always got behind us. We're not stupid. We know we need to perform on the pitch to get as much as we can from the crowd as well.

You can watch the full interview with James McClean on RTÉ 2 tonight from 7pm.

SEE ALSO: IFA Condemns Northern Ireland Fans Singing 'We Hate Catholics'

Gary Connaughton

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