Ireland star James McClean has revealed that he was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The Wigan winger shared a post on social media on Tuesday to mark autism awareness week, and spoke about his daughter's already-known diagnosis with autism.
McClean shared his pride for Willow-Ivy's strength in overcoming the obstacles presented by autism, before revealing that he recently got an ASD assessment after noticing similarities between the pair's thought process.
James McClean shares touching story after autism diagnosis
McClean went on to say that he hoped his diagnosis would show his daughter Willow-Ivy that autism will not stop her from pushing for and achieving her goals and dreams in life.
In the moving Instagram post, James McClean said:
As you all know, my daughter Willow-Ivy is autistic.
The last 4 years have been life changing in the most amazing way but also very difficult at times as her daddy watching her overcome so many obstacles in her life and learning how to manage the challenges she faces on a daily basis.
The more Erin and I learned about autism the more we began to recognise I was very similar to Willow in more ways than we thought.
I see so many small traits in her that I see in myself. So I decided to go and get an ASD assessment.
It’s been a bit of a journey and now having a diagnosis I feel it’s time to share it, for the week that’s in it.
I have debated for a while going public in sharing this as I’ve done this for Willow-Ivy, to let her know that I understand and that being autistic wont and should never hold her back from reaching her goals and dreams.
McClean's choice to share his diagnosis during autism awareness week is a brave and inspiring one, and brings greater visibility of the condition to the world of sport.
His post understandably received widespread plaudits, with several of his Irish teammates commenting in support.
His wife Erin McClean replied, "Proud of the 2 of use always." Other shows of support came from Ireland legend Paul McGrath, and current Irish squad members Gavin Bazunu and Jeff Hendrick.
McClean played the final 13 minutes of Ireland's narrow loss to France on Monday night, winning his 98th cap for his country. He impressed off the bench, stretching the right hand side of the French defence in the closing stages.