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When Trapattoni Cheekily Compared James McClean’s Debut To Messi And Pele

By Colman Stanley Updated
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Ireland's James McClean is on course to win his 100th international cap this evening, when Ireland take on Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off: 19.45pm).

He is one of the most deserving ever of the honour, given his unrelenting and very public love for the green jersey, and his total commitment to the cause when part of the squad.

The Derryman will become the seventh man to achieve the 100 cap goal - following Robbie Keane, Shay Given, John O'Shea, Kevin Kilbane, Steve Staunton, and Damien Duff - 11 years after making his debut against the Czech Republic in 2012, under manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

At the time, Trapattoni spoke about McClean's debut in an interview with La Gazetta dello Sport, and compared the fanfare from the Irish crowd to watching the likes of Messi or Pele enter the pitch.

When I watched him enter the stage, it seemed as though they [the Irish crowd] had greeted Messi or Pele!

We should be calm, for their own good [speaking about both McClean and James McCarthy].

The Raucous Ireland Debut Of James McClean

[Watch Video]

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29 February 2012; James McClean, Republic of Ireland, comes on as a second half substitute for Aiden McGeady to make his international debut. International Friendly, Republic of Ireland v Czech Republic, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
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The hype surrounding McClean stemmed from his excellent form at Sunderland where he won the club's Young Player of the Year Award at the end of the 2011–12 season.

These performances lead to his debut and inclusion in the squad for Ireland's ill-fated 2012 European Championship campaign.

However, a lack of game time for McClean at the tournament lead to animosity towards his Italian gaffer.

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"If I’m honest, that knocked me a lot that I didn’t play in the European Championship and it took me a while to recover from that because it was the first time in a long time that I wasn’t being played and I felt that I should have been playing," McClean told RTE Sport.

"During the Euros, I remember thinking that he said at the press conference that I was just there for the experience and I wouldn’t be playing. And then we were 3-0 down against Spain and he throws me on, and I felt a bit insulted really."

“I have got nothing but respect for Mr Trapattoni. We didn’t always see eye to eye, we bumped heads, and I think that was down to the communication and the language barrier.”

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SEE ALSO: Confirmed: Liam Brady To Retire From RTÉ Punditry Duty After 25 Years 

27 September 2022; Former Republic of Ireland international and current RTÉ analyst Liam Brady during the UEFA Nations League B Group 1 match between Republic of Ireland and Armenia at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

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