Former Sunderland chairman, Niall Quinn, has revealed that James McClean, had attracted interest from Chelsea before the Creggan man signed for the “Black Cats” last summer.
McClean joined Sunderland from Derry City for £350,000 back in August and he continues to impress under manager Martin O’Neill, having now netted four goals in his 16 appearances.
And the 22-year-old’s impact at the Stadium of Light earned him a first call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad last week, with McClean sealing his first cap as a substitute during the 1-1 draw with Czech Republic.
And former Ireland striker Quinn revealed how Chelsea refused to take a chance on the winger.
“The funny story about James McClean is that Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, a very famous player for West Ham United, Newcastle United and Sunderland, was Chelsea’s scout for Ireland and Scotland,” Quinn said this week.
“But we managed to poached him towards the end of August to come and work for Sunderland and on his first day with Steve Bruce and I, he told us about this player he had been watching from Derry.
“He said Chelsea wouldn’t take a chance on him and there were a couple of other clubs trying to sign him.
“So he asked us to act quickly as the signing would come down to small money. ‘Pop’ asked us to trust him on James, so it was really ‘Pop’ Robson who gets the credit for bringing James to Sunderland,” smiled Quinn.