ROBERTO Martinez has hailed the mental toughness of James McCarthy for overcoming personal trauma to help keep Wigan Athletic in the Premier League.
The 21-year-old midfielder was a rock-like presence in the engine room for the run-in despite discovering his father is battling cancer.
McCarthy has since taken the difficult decision to drop out of the Ireland Euro 2012 squad to be there for his family.
And Martinez is full of admiration for the way McCarthy has handled the situation.
“James is incredible,” Martinez said. “He is such a mature boy, he will keep surprising you year after year.
“He uses football to switch off, but he has been a powerful strength in his family, and what he has done is an incredible achievement because he has gone to a different level once more with us.
“But his decision to stay at home this summer speaks volumes of his human nature.
“We’re very proud of James. The manner he has handled it, you would think that he is 30 or 31. On the pitch, nobody would be able to guess that he has got other things going on.”
The Wigan boss also backed McCarthy’s decision to stay at home rather than go to the European Championships.
“If you cannot be 100 per cent committed to something, you’re going to fail,” he added.
“What is incredible is that he has made that choice to give up a big event, but he will have many more opportunities.
“He is a great example to any youngster– to see the human values, and that family is more important than anything else.”