Belfast Telegraph

Warren Feeney has made the right call bringing classy Grant McCann on board at Windsor Park

By Steven Beacom

Grant McCann once left me a telephone message that was so full of fury and expletives that I thought he was auditioning for a part in The Sopranos!

He wasn't. Grant was actually blasting me for a mistake I had made in a Northern Ireland report about him.

Have to defend myself here and say I don't make many errors, but this one caused quite a response.

Put it this way, the boy from Sandy Row in Belfast did not miss and hit the wall.

I was at fault and sucked it up. I corrected the faux pas and tried to call Grant back to clear the air. No answer. No worries.

The next time I saw McCann on international duty there were no issues. He had said his piece and that was that. My type of bloke. Always has been.

He may have lost the plot with me one afternoon, but throughout his career, which I've written about since it started at West Ham almost 20 years ago, McCann has been one of the good guys.

He's all about his family and his football and totally dedicated to his country. If he was a stick of rock the words Northern Ireland would run right through him.

He also happens to be an accomplished footballer. Wonderful left foot, excellent set-piece exponent and a fine passer with an eye for a goal.

He won 39 caps and scored four goals at the highest level. I still remember his first in Liechtenstein in 2007. McCann was happier than a seven-year-old girl getting a Frozen DVD for Christmas!

Playing for Northern Ireland was his biggest thrill and his mum, dad and brother Ryan, a fine player himself, shared that pride.

At club level, I'm not sure enough managers realised the talent McCann possessed, but even so he made a good living across the water, finishing at Peterborough where he became captain and hero to the Posh fans.

Now, at 34, he has come home to play for the club he used to cheer as a kid... Linfield FC.

It will prove to be a shrewd signing by his old pal and Blues boss Warren Feeney. McCann's not here for the ride. This is a player who genuinely cares for the club. His passion and poise will increase chances of trophy success and his experience will benefit younger players at Windsor Park.

Sure, he'll be a marked man in the Irish League with some local players keen to tackle this big name in every sense, but he's clever enough to deal with that.

And you can bet your life if he has something to say he'll say it to team-mates, the opposition or journalists.

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