James McClean Twitter death threats after Republic Euro 2012 call up
DEATH threats have been directed at former Northern Ireland U-21 footballer James McClean following his selection to play for the Republic at the Euro 2012 finals next month.
Two of the messages directed at him on Twitter threatened to have him shot and also contained sectarian abuse.
The Derry born winger, who plays for Sunderland in the Premier League, discovered yesterday that Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni had included him in the squad.
McClean, now 23, has been subjected to abuse from scores of unhappy Northern Ireland fans since he declared for the Republic, having been brought through the ranks by the Irish FA.
He has previously only been capped once at senior level for the Republic as a substitute, but following a stunning six months on Wearside was tipped for Euro 2012 success by Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill.
O’Neill himself had a very successful career as a Northern Ireland international. The Sunderland winger took to Twitter yesterday to share his joy regarding the squad selection with his 49,000 online followers.
He said: “Absolutely honoured and couldn't be happier to have been called up to represent my country at the euros no better feelin! #COYBIG #ireland #euro12”
This was met with messages of congratulations, but also some posts that were full of sectarian abuse and threats to kill.
One Twitter user, with the account ‘RobbieLittle@PotKettleBlack3’, posted: “F*** up your dirty fenian b****** il make sure you get shot when you set foot back into gods country #FTP.”
Another using the name ‘James W Magee@JamesWMagee07’ posted: “U deserve to be shot for that comment!! Your playing for Ireland and not the country you were born in (NI). #p****”
Both messages have since been deleted.
McClean, who carries an Irish passport and identifies himself on Twitter as a ‘Irish professional footballer’ made a general response following the hate-filled abuse.
He said: “Love the dogs abuse am gettin of shock N.I fans, just worry about watchin ur own country at the euros... oh wait #mybad #awkward haha.”
It’s not the first time a prominent Catholic player has been targeted for sectarian abuse and death threats by so-called Northern Ireland fans.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon was singled out for abuse from bigots after joining the Glasgow club as a player, despite turning out for the side on 40 occasions.
He retired from international football in 2002 following a death threat before Northern Ireland played Cyprus, after he made comments that he would like to play for an all-Ireland team.
Lennon was later targeted with parcel bombs by bigots in Scotland.
Last month McClean, who made seven appearances for Northern Ireland’s U-21 team while at Derry City, told Sunday Life he felt uncomfortable playing at international level for the underage teams.
He said: “You’re looking around as a Catholic and seeing all the Union Jacks and listening to the songs the fans sing and I just didn't feel at home at all,” he explained.
“Even in the squads I felt like a bit of an outsider. There weren’t too many Catholics, it just didn’t feel right.”
Fellow Derry native Darron Gibson also found out yesterday that he had been selected for the Republic’s squad.