Football

'He Looks 13 Or 14, To Have That Anger And Hatred Is Mind-Blowing'

'He Looks 13 Or 14, To Have That Anger And Hatred Is Mind-Blowing'

James McClean has described as "mind-blowing" the level of anger and hatred which has fuelled death threats sent to him and his family on social media.

In recent days, McClean received a message threatening to burn down his house with everyone inside. On Tuesday night, his brother Patrick - a footballer with Glentoran - received another message via Instagram.

The sender said that rather than see James McClean and his family die in a house fire, he'd rather tie the Stoke footballer to a chair and make them watch "James go up in flames".

"The kid, he looks like he is 13 or 14," McClean told RTÉ Radio One's 'Today with Claire Byrne' regarding the most recent threat.

"To have that anger and hatred at that age is mind-blowing. I don’t understand it at that age. I think back to when I was that age.

"To have that amount of hate for someone you don’t know in you, and to actually carry it out (the threat), is baffling.

"It either comes from him being told that at home or he's seen that in the media. The media is a powerful entity. They can make or break a person. They are never held accountable for what they write or say. In the media, I have done so much charity work over the years and there is always a section about the poppy in it.

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"The media portray me, especially in England, as this (anti-British) person.

"People, without educating themselves, believe it. That is the world we live in. People believe what they read nowadays, especially in the media. Without knowing me or taking the time to educate themselves, they see me as that character. It fuels hate."

McClean's wife Erin earlier this week spoke about the abuse which the family has been subjected to for the last nine years. The Ireland international said that he sees daily the effect which the abuse has on her.

"In a way, I feel guilty that she has to feel that way, even though I've done nothing wrong," he said.

"Imagine having to live with that, feeling guilty for something you haven't done."

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Erin McClean, also speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, said that she and her husband were speaking out "because we don’t want anyone else to have to go through what he has been through for a decade. Our son is football-mad. You ask him what he wants to be when he’s older and the answer is a footballer for Stoke.

"If that is what he wants to be, or any other young Irish lads, you don’t want them to come over and have to endure any form of abuse like we have."

McClean also addressed a social media incident from last year which saw him post a picture to Instagram of himself sitting in front of two of his children wearing a balaclava. The image was captioned 'Today's school lesson - history'.

The 31-year-old, who said the post was ill-advised, added that it was intended as "two fingers" to those who portray him as a "Provo-loving this and that".

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"If you are honestly insane enough to think I sat down my children at seven and five and think I told them about the Troubles and Irish history, then I can’t help them because, as a father, that is just something I would never do. It’s madness," said McClean.

"If people think that the conversation took place, then I can’t help them. The balaclava post, at the time, it was supposed to be funny. It was supposed to be a jibe back that you portray me this way, here is two fingers up at you, without really thinking of the consequences and the hurt it might cause.

"I quickly tried to take the post down. With the way social media is, when it’s out there. I’m portrayed as the person in the balaclava, that I’m a Provo-loving this and that.

"It annoyed me because it has given people, in a sense, justification to continue their abuse because they post that picture and say 'You don’t help yourself'. This picture was in June or July. The level of the abuse that has been going on day-in and day-out for nine years.

"Everyone has a breaking point. I would say to the people who say I bring it on myself to put yourself in my shoes. You live my life every day and see the messages I get. At some point, right or wrong, you are going to react. I reacted and didn’t think."

Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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PJ Browne
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