‘If you’re not proud to play for Ireland, sod off and play for someone else’, blasts ex-Wigan Athletic man

James McClean
James McClean

Former Wigan Athletic star James McClean has a simple message to any player not fully committed to playing for the Republic of Ireland - ‘sod off and play for someone else’.

McClean was speaking with reference to the recent decision made by Declan Rice, the West Ham midfielder who switched allegiance to England after featuring in three friendlies for Ireland.

Rice, born in London, was eligible to play for Ireland as both of his grandparents hail from Cork.

But after electing to throw in his lot with England, he made his first start in the 5-1 thrashing of Montenegro on Monday night.

All of which hasn’t gone down too well with Derry-born McClean.

“He said he was a proud Irishman...then he said he was a proud Englishman,” said McClean.

“If he’s both... good luck to him, but I don’t buy it.

“I think you’re either one or the other.”

Ironically, McClean represented Northern Ireland at youth level before switching to the Republic senior side.

He added on RTE Sport: “I was with Derry City when I got the call-up to play for the North and I turned it down because it’s not my country, it’s never been my country. I’m an Irishman.

“It’s not just Declan, it’s anyone else. If you’re not proud to be here and we’re a stepping stone then sod off and play for someone else.

“I’m an Irishman. I grew up on the island of Ireland, simple as that.

“We only want players here who want to play for Ireland, who feel Irish and are proud to be Irish.”