McGeady ready for fans' abuse
Published 12/03/2014 | 18:32
Ireland winger Aiden McGeady admits it is inevitable that he will suffer abuse from the Tartan Army when he returns to Scotland for the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
The Paisley-born Everton attacker sparked controversy as a Celtic teenager when he announced he would commit himself to Ireland rather than the land of his birth.
That decision made him a target for opposition supporters at grounds across Scotland during his six-year Parkhead spell.
Now the 27-year-old says he expects to face more flak when Martin O'Neill's side take on the Dark Blues on Friday, November 14 - a match likely to be played at his old Celtic Park stomping ground.
Speaking as he helped launch the PFA Scotland Player of the Year Awards, McGeady said: "It'll be strange playing against Scotland at Celtic Park. Although if it's at Celtic Park it might give Ireland the advantage because there will probably be a lot of fans there in the Scotland end who are actually Ireland fans.
"Do I expect to get stick? Yeah, probably, because you still get the odd bit when you're out and about but that's football for you.
"I'm old enough now to deal with it, though. When I was a little bit younger it used to get on my nerves. But people can say what they want at grounds and they're entitled to because they've paid their money.
"It's a shame but it's too far down the line to change people's opinion now. I've tried to tell people my story, how I ended up playing for Ireland, but that's it."
McGeady was prevented by Celtic from representing his school side as a youth, but the Scottish Football Association would only select youngsters who played with their classmates for the nations' Schoolboy squad.
Ireland had no such rule and used the row to their advantage as they persuaded McGeady to represent their youth set-up.
The SFA did attempt to lure McGeady back once he had established himself as a Hoops regular but the 64-cap winger insists he made the right choice.
"I have no regrets because I've played a lot of games for Ireland, I've got a lot of caps and I'm still only 27," he said. " I've played at the Euros and I can say I played at a major finals.
"To be fair, the SFA did try hard to get me to change me mind but it was too far down the line.
"I'd already been playing for Ireland for three years up to the 17s and then they tried but my mind was already made up. I knew the players and the set-up but they did try so I can't really fault them for that."
McGeady is not the only Irish player with Scottish heritage. Former Hamilton midfielder James McCarthy was born and raised in Glasgow but like his new Everton team-mate, chose to represent the Republic.
"We were just talking about who would get more stick and I said him," joked McGeady. "But we'll deal with it if and when it happens. It might not be as bad as we think."
McGeady won both the Player of the Year and Young Player prizes for 2008 and believes this year's recipient of the top prize will come from his former club.
"I'd say Kris Commons is the outstanding candidate," he said. "Commons and Virgil van Dijk are probably the most consistent performers from Celtic."
McGeady was joined at the award launch by fellow Goodison forward Steven Naismith.
He agreed Commons and Van Dijk were the favourites but suggested former Rangers strike partner Kris Boyd was a decent outside bet.
"A lot of boys will look at Celtic for how well they have done in the league," he said. "You've got Commons for his goals, Van Dijk who has been cruising through games at the back and even the keeper Fraser Forster, who has had some run of shut-outs.
"But outwith Celtic, someone like Kris Boyd has impressed with the goals he has scored. He has scored 18 goals in the league, the same as Commons, but his have probably been more important for his side.
"Kilmarnock have struggled a bit this season but Boydy's game has improved and his goals have been vital."