Sunday 1 February 2015

McClean stands firm over poppy

Dion Fanning

Published 10/02/2013 | 04:00

James McClean has spoken for the first time about the row surrounding his refusal to wear a Sunderland jersey decorated with a poppy

James McClean has spoken for the first time about the row surrounding his refusal to wear a Sunderland jersey decorated with a poppy by saying he will do the same this year.

McClean was criticised by many in Britain last year after he wore a normal Sunderland shirt for the game against Everton rather than one embroidered with a poppy.

"People have their own opinions," said McClean. "They have their beliefs and I have mine. I don't regret it, come next year I'm going to do the same thing."

He was supported at the time by his international team-mate John O'Shea, who said the whole team were behind his decision.

"I got a lot of flak from everybody," McClean added, "but I'll say it again, it doesn't bother me. Every year I'm not going to wear it, so I'll take whatever comes."

His manager Martin O'Neill expressed disappointment on Friday that McClean had returned to Twitter but McClean says he has now left the social network again.

"I'm actually not allowed on it. It was short and sweet this week and I've had to come back off it."

McClean's willingness to engage with users had led to abuse but he believes he is wiser now.

"I was a young lad and it was all new to me. If someone has a go at me I'm going to give some back but I've learned to let it go and not bite back as much. And whenever the club let me back on, hopefully I can show them that I have settled down."

McClean, who missed yesterday's game against Arsenal with injury, believes he is returning to his best form and was more serene about the limited opportunities that came his way at last summer's European Championships.

"Ah, look, I only broke into the team. I was disappointed not to get more game-time but there was a squad there that had got them to the Euros so I had to understand that too."

He says that part of his developing maturity is the ability to deal with setbacks.

"I had a tough start to the season domestically, I wouldn't say it knocks your confidence but you start to sort of think about it. You have one or two bad touches and it starts to play on your mind. It takes maturity to shrug it off."

Giovanni Trapattoni, meanwhile, has said there is no need for new investigations into doping in football, saying he believed the authorities were on top of the problem.

"Maybe there was a situation many years ago when there was no checks," Trapattoni said but he added he never had any suspicions with any of his teams.

"No. I pay attention. I am careful with my teams in the past because the players also go in pub, drink beer and are in the pubs where there might be marijuana smoke in the air. In my clubs with the doctor we choose every Thursday for certain players to have blood tests for this situation."

Irish Independent

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