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20th Nov 2023

James McClean believes he is “still best person for the role” despite retirement

Lee Costello

James McClean

“It’s not because of my body.”

James McClean believes that he is “still the best person for the role” despite announcing his plans to retire after Ireland’s friendly game against New Zealand.

The Irishman will represent his country one last time tomorrow evening, before hanging up the green jersey for good and allowing someone else to come and take his place.

However, despite playing over 100 times for Ireland, and being 34 years old, the Derry native says that he is as fit as ever, and that his body isn’t a factor in this decision.

“I will be honest with you. It’s not because of my body, or I feel my ability has diminished. I still feel as fit as ever,” said McClean.

“I still believe I am the best person for the role. I have never doubted myself. I played 46 games out of 46 in the Championship last season, 45 of them starts. Ability-wise, I was second for full-backs in goals and assists, and for most successful tackles in the whole league.

“There’s other factors. I have personal reasons and my own reasons for stepping away, I feel now is the right time to step aside. Let others come through, I’ve had my time, I have no regrets. For me now is the perfect time to step away, I have no regrets.”

In terms of retiring from football entirely, the Wrexham winger claims that just because he is finishing up at international level, doesn’t mean that he will be putting on the slippers any time soon.

“I feel grand,” he said, “I’ve no plans to hang up the boots any time soon. I promised my wife and kids, because I’ve never had the summer off in a long time, that we’re going to book Florida and go away for a month, and enjoy Disneyland.

“I’ve never hid the fact that it means everything, the Ireland jersey. Along with the Derry City jersey, it’s the jersey that means more to me than anything else ever will. Tomorrow night, for the last time, I’ll pull it on.

When I say it out loud, it’s a bit sad that’s going to be the case. I’ll do what I’ve done 102 times before, I’ll try and do it with as much pride and as much justice as possible.”

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