Here's exactly how James McClean switched from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland 4 years ago

Here's exactly how James McClean switched from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland

James McClean played seven times for Northern Ireland's U21 side, with his last appearance coming in 2009.

The Derry winger made his debut for the Republic of Ireland senior team against the Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium in February 2012, having switched to play for the Republic and turning down a call-up to the Northern Irish senior team the previous summer. McClean said that he felt uncomfortable playing for Northern Ireland's underage team.

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"I didn't feel part of the squad. And I think any Catholic player if they said they did, I'd probably call them a liar," McClean said in 2012.

"I didn't feel that way. It's probably strong words to say, but I felt that we weren't wanted. As a Catholic as well, it's hard to stand for that national anthem, and see all the flags, the sectarian flags and the chants as well. You don't feel part of that, especially me from where I grew up."

James McClean and Shaun Kelly 4/9/2009

There's no doubt where McClean loyalties currently lie, and it's clear from this story that his intention was always to play for the Republic.

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Niall Quinn has revealed that a key part of the negotiations to take the player to Sunderland from Derry City in 2012 was to ensure McClean's registration switched from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland.

The former Republic of Ireland striker was on the Sunderland board when McClean joined the club in August 2011 for £350,000 and handled the club's negotiations for the player. Quin also made contact with the Football Association of Ireland to begin the process.

"We held negotiations in Castleknock, Dublin when I was back home to see the All Ireland Gaelic football semi-final in 2011," Quinn wrote in his column for our brothers over at JOE.ie in 2016.

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"James' agent, Eamonn McLoughlin, was always a very likeable guy as agents go, easy to deal with. All through the deal there was one burning issue that Eamonn pushed for. He wanted me to call the FAI and tell them James wanted to switch from Northern Ireland to the Republic. We agreed a fee with further payments if James made the first team and another payment if James played for Ireland.

Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - Premier League

"I spoke to John Delaney at the FAI. I explained how we at Sunderland felt this lad had a decent chance and asked JD to consider securing him for Giovanni Trapattoni. John showed great faith too by starting the paperwork and he also invited James' parents to the next Irish game in Dublin. Meanwhile James had arrived in Sunderland."

McClean has since played in two European Championships for the Republic of Ireland and has become a fan favourite.

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