'We respect his right to follow his own convictions' - Stoke City back James McClean's decision not to wear a poppy
Stoke City and Ireland winger James McClean will not be wearing a poppy to commemorate Remembrance Day during this Saturday's game against Middlesbrough.
The Derry native has refused to wear the tribute for several years as a gesture of respect to the 13 civilians who died during Bloody Sunday in 1972.
The club have given McClean their blessing on the issue.
McClean is quoted on the club's website today as saying: “I know many people won’t agree with my decision or even attempt to gain an understanding of why I don’t wear a poppy.
“I accept that, but I would ask people to be respectful of the choice I have made, just as I’m respectful of people who do choose to wear a poppy.”
The club added: “As a club, we will be supporting the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal by wearing the Poppy on our home shirt in the fixture against Middlesbrough on November 3rd and on our away shirt in the fixture against Nottingham Forest on November 10th.
"The club is proud of its close connections with the Armed Forces and have also invited members of the Armed Forces to join our remembrance at the Middlesbrough fixture.
“However, we recognise that the Poppy means different things to different individuals and communities and (like the Royal British Legion) do not believe that anybody should be forced or even pressured to wear the Poppy against their free will.
"James has informed us that he will not be wearing a Remembrance Day Poppy in our next two games.
"We respect his decision and his right to follow his own convictions.”
McClean has previously said: “If the poppy was simply about World War One and Two victims alone, I’d wear it without a problem.
"I would wear it every day of the year if that was the thing but it doesn’t it stands for all conflicts that Britain has been involved in. Because of the history of where I come from in Derry, I cannot wear something that represents that.”