FOOTBALL can be a game of both brilliant highs and devastating lows and last Sunday afternoon I experienced a definite high.
To see a young man from Creggan, a lad I had watched growing up when representing his local Derry & District Youth Club, Trojans, before graduating to play for his home town club, Derry City and now make his Premiership debut with Sunderland was nothing short of incredible.
James McClean, without a shadow of doubt, deserves this success more than many others. He has worked his socks off to achieve his dream.
Indeed, many a time I would have driven past him on the back roads above Creggan as he put in extra training because he always had the dream and was prepared to do whatever was necessary and make whatever sacrifices he had to in an effort to realise his ambition.
James McClean is one of the most modest young men one is ever likely to meet. He always was and will always be and while he has now taken that vital first step, he would be the first to agree that he still has a long, long way to go.
I know I would speak for many of you reading this piece, when I suggest that we were all very, very proud on Sunday afternoon watching the game against Blackburn Rovers. Our fingers remain firmly crossed that he can go on to inspire so many young lads who harbour similar ambitions.
Making it all the more special was the fact that new manager, Martin O’Neill, presented him with his debut which, in my view, was a thoroughly deserved reward for the hard work James has put in over the years. I know that he will now go on to become the perfect role model for other youngsters from this area who dream of playing football at the highest level.
I’ve no doubt that James will be walking on air for the next few days, but he will return to earth, hopeful of being included in the Sunderland side next weekend.
Read more from the Doc in the Journal every Tuesday