In an unexpected twist, James McClean has hit back at Derry City manager Kenny Shiels following remarks Shiels made about the Ireland national team.
Late last month, Shiels declared that the Republic of Ireland were 'England's reserves', before suggesting that the North were 'England's reserves' reserves', in an extraordinary rant about international football made to the Irish Independent.
Despite being a staunch Derry fan and former player (and, by Stephen Ward's wonderful account, the biggest LOI enthusiast in the Ireland squad), West Brom winger McClean has ripped into Shiels' assessment of the national setup, expressing his disgust that the current Candystripes boss would show such little regard for players who fought upwards from League of Ireland level to represent their country.
Speaking to The Derry Journal, McClean unleashed a controlled but nonetheless remarkable tirade against Shiels:
I’ve become frustrated and very disappointed reading some of the silly and stupid comments made by Kenny Shiels in the media.
I remain a dyed in-the-wool Derry City fan. I really enjoyed representing the Candystripes and to have successfully battled my way through to play international football for my country makes me feel particularly proud.
What right or what credentials does Kenny Shiels hold to make such ridiculous comments on international football?
For me, playing in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in front of thousands of people and wearing that green jersey means so much to me and my team-mates.
I feel very proud and very fortunate to have been given an opportunity to wear that jersey. I do everything in my power to give 100 per cent when wearing it, so how dare Kenny Shiels make such ridiculous comments when he knows very little about playing international football.
He said Italians and Scottish people play for Ireland, but so do players such as David Forde, Seamus Coleman, Wes Hoolohan, Stephen Ward, Daryl Murphy and myself, players who graduated through local League of Ireland football.
Talk is cheap, but every local player harbours an ambition to play at the highest level possible. I think Kenny Shiels has done himself no favours with these insulting outbursts regarding international football.
He’s actually been laughed at and ridiculed on television following the comments and I don’t believe a Derry City manager should be viewed as a comedian.
I’ve noticed that he likes to make the headlines with some silly interviews before and after games, but I’m not prepared to let him belittle the strides Irish players have made in their careers by going on to represent their country. These are proud moments for the vast majority of players and moments that young players, such as myself, have long dreamt about.
It's quite the rant from McClean in his local paper back home, and we now eagerly await Shiels' response.
McClean also provided his thoughts on Derry City's third place finish and the season as a whole, which you can check out in the full interview in The Derry Journal.
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