Considering how synonymous he has become with the Republic of Ireland, it is a strange thought when you consider that James McClean lined out for Northern Ireland at underage level.
The winger said there was no decision to make once those south of the border made their interest known, although some claim he felt some pressure to switch his international allegiances.
Speaking in A Game Of Two Halves, the recent ITV documentary that discussed the complex nature of the Northern Ireland national team, Gerry Armstrong said that McClean was pressured by his family to play for the Republic:
I spoke to James McClean as the Elite Player Mentor for Northern Ireland and I was trying to get him to stay with us because he had come through the schoolboy system and we had developed him.
He was always under pressure from his family who didn't want him standing for God Save The Queen, they wanted him to play for the Republic. That was his choice.
The player himself has now refuted those claims.
Taking to Instagram after recently watching the documentary, McClean said that Armstrong's claims were 'nonsense' and that he always intended to play for the Republic of Ireland.
Just watched 'A Game of Two Halves'.
I have a lot of respect for Gerry (Armstrong) but this is nonsense, never have my family put any pressure on me. As an Irish catholic born in the island of Ireland there was never any decision to make.
If you know anything about James McClean, you can be fairly certain he always had his heart set on playing for The Boys in Green.
As for the documentary itself, it didn't seem he agreed with all that much that was said in it.
After watching it, to sum it up from my perspective:
- A Game of Two Halves mainly told by one half
- Not a lot has changed (own experiences up to this very day)
- A lot of hypocrisy
- Anthem, among other factors, will always be an issue in making catholics feel uncomfortable.
It's fair to say he wasn't a fan of it.