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'I learn from my mistakes'


James McClean in action during squad training ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Faroe Islands. Photo: Sportsfile

James McClean in action during squad training ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Faroe Islands. Photo: Sportsfile

James McClean in action during squad training ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Faroe Islands. Photo: Sportsfile

JUST a small bit older and according to himself, a big chunk wiser, James McClean is still on a rapid learning curve.

His nature is to tell the truth and hang the consequences, but today's digitally super-charged society and a million keyboard warriors hoover up small incidents and push them out the other end magnified beyond reason.

McClean won't change and any manager who employs him should know that he is an open, forthright lad who tells it as he sees it and won't apologise for who he is.

If that is a bad thing in a human being, the world really has gone mad. The alternative is for McClean to clam up or tell lies.

All of that said, he admits that he needs to tone things down to some degree and in terms of electronic media, stay away from his smartphone. It hurt his football.

"In the first season I was on top of the world, second season I was a bit indifferent for a lot of reasons that were well publicised," he said.

"I played for six months at first and footballers are not stupid so they know you after that. I continued to work on my game and, obviously, there is a lot I can work on in my game to get better.

"I've been the same person I've always been. At Derry I would have got away with things like that because you're not really in the spotlight.

"I've had to learn I can't do that. It's all in the past.

"My manager at the time, Martin O'Neill, was a massive help. We had a few chats and he told me that I can't do things like this and that.

"He was particularly great with me. Obviously the manager here, Giovanni, has been good with me as well.

"Of course, he (O'Neill) knows the ins and outs and stuff. It was obviously a help him being from the same part of the country.

"He sat me down and said 'you can't do this and that and concentrate on your football, you'll learn from this'. I think I have learned from this. He was a massive help."

So too were his Ireland team-mates: "They've been great from day one. Even after that, a few of the lads sat me down and said 'look you can't do this'. That was a great help. They kind of took the mickey a bit after it as well. For about a week, to be honest. They've been tremendous.

"I think at times John (O'Shea) thinks he's my dad, he tells me off a lot of the time. And he's obviously here too. He's A1 so he is, a top man, a great fella."

McClean's willingness to talk has caused him grief but he can't help himself.

"That's always been me growing up. That's the way I was reared.

"But, like I said, there was no spotlight on me before, the spotlight was new to me. I've learned from that and that's all in the past.

"I've never wanted to make headlines other than football. That's just the way life is. Hopefully I can make the headlines for all the right reasons, for my football." McClean clearly has no time for Paolo Di Canio and dismissed questions about contact between player and manager with a stoney face and a few throwaway remarks.

"Every manager has his own style, let's leave it at that," and "No, we've not had a chat," just about covered it.

He has mended fences with Trapattoni and probably appreciates the old school, direct approach favoured by the Italian. Either way, he's on message now.

"Aye, we've put that behind us. We had a chat a couple of days after that happened.

"It was stupid from me, at the end of the day he's the manager, he picks the team. I've no given right to be in the team. I think we've moved on from there and I've a good relationship with him."

And New York?

"I'm looking forward to New York, playing Spain at the Yankees Stadium is nice to have on your CV to look back on. I'm looking forward to it, I've never been to New York before so it'll be a good trip."

McClean has a lacework of tattoos down both arms and in flowing script across a bicep the motto "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow".

"I got that at the start of the season, ironically," he said with a grin.

"It's a bit ironic that tattoo but it's a great motto. Hopefully I've learned from it."