Premiership footballer James McClean believes that he was “hung out to dry” for his refusal to wear a poppy in recognition of Remembrance Sunday during his time with Sunderland.
In a candid and wide-ranging interview with the Belfast Telegraph tomorrow, the Derry native explains how he was advised against explaining his stance when the furore first erupted after a game against Everton in 2012.
McClean, who earned widespread praise for a remarkably eloquent open letter to his Wigan chairman, Dave Whelan, on the same issue last November, believes the controversy could have been “nipped in the bud” had Sunderland’s press people allowed him speak publicly on the matter.
“I think it could have saved so much hassle….when you think two years later I finally get to speak about it” he said. “For me, that’s two years too late!”
McClean explains how fatherhood has brought a new serenity into his life and says that he no longer uses Twitter, a medium that got him into untold trouble when he first moved to England.
“All of a sudden, my every move was in the papers” he recalls.
“The stuff I had been doing my whole life. Probably naively, I didn’t know any different. I was just being me. I was just writing (Twitter) and singing and doing all the things I had done before, but all of a sudden it was all in the papers.
“I think I learned the hard way that I couldn’t be doing that anymore.”
Full interview in tomorrow's Belfast Telegraph.