Former Derry City F.C. star, James McClean, has claimed that Sunderland hung him out to dry over his decision not wear a remembrance poppy during a football match in 2012.
In an interview with, ‘The Irish Independent’, Creggan Heights born McClean, said he believes that Sunderland could have handled the issue better.
Last year, McClean sent a letter to the chairman of his current club, Wigan Athletic, explaining why he felt he could wear a remembrance day poppy. The 25 year-old Republic of Ireland international said he felt the issue over his decision not to wear a poppy could have been resolved three years ago had officials at Sunderland let him speak publicly.
“They [supporters of the poppy] didn’t understand. To them, I was disrespecting their country, disrespecting their fallen heroes, disrespecting their culture. I was getting booed every touch.
“When I asked to be allowed to speak about it, I was told that was a bad idea, not to say anything and let it blow over. So it was kind of brushed under the table and I felt that was more for the club’s benefit than mine,” said McClean.
“I think it could have saved so much hassle. When you think two years later I finally get to speak about it. For me, that’s two years too late.”
McClean came on as second half substitute for the Republic of Ireland against Poland in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday and helped the team to secure a valuable point in their bid to qualify for next year’s European Championships in France.