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18th Oct 2023

Martin O’Neill shares his personal view on James McClean’s poppy stance

Lee Costello

James McClean

“He was prepared to do that.”

Former Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has shared his personal view on James McClean’s controversial and much-talked about poppy stance.

McClean refused to wear the poppy embroidered on his jersey when that was introduced to English football during the month of November in honour of Remembrance Day.

Wearing the poppy is showing your support and solidarity for those who have fought for the British Army, but due to McClean’s upbringing in the city of Derry, and the horrific circumstances of Bloody Sunday, when soldiers shot civilians back in 1972, he took a stance and chose not to wear it.

This has led to a backlash of abuse that has followed him throughout his career, but O’Neill, who managed McClean for both Ireland and Sunderland, commends his former player.

He told talkSPORT: ‘James McClean took a stance on the poppy.

“This is what he felt at the time and I’m sure he feels the same now. He refused to wear the poppy and that is entirely his decision.

“James McClean as the person that I know, he realised he would take a lot of abuse not only from away fans, but from home fans as well. He was prepared to do that.”

O’Neill made the point that McClean knew he would have to face a lot of scrutiny from fans, media and pundits, but made didn’t let that stop him for standing up for something that he believes in.

“James McClean, as a person, has more courage in his little finger than I have in my whole body, believe it or not.

“He took the stance knowing what was going to happen in the future and it did. I’m not so sure I would have had that courage.”

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