Belfast Telegraph

There's only one James McClean for Kaylee after star vows to buy disabled girl special cycle

By Claire McNeilly

He gets jeered by some fans virtually everywhere he plays, but for one little Northern Ireland girl and her family there's only one James McClean.

The Londonderry-born Republic of Ireland star is a big hero in the eyes of William Sweeney and his god-daughter Kaylee, who will be the proud owner of a special cycle this Christmas thanks to the generosity of the WBA player.

The sometimes controversial footballer offered to pay the £1,500 needed to make the festive wish of spina bifida sufferer Kaylee come true after reading about her plight on Facebook.

Kaylee's family, who also hail from Derry, set up a page on the social network site to raise money for the cycle and were shocked when 26-year-old McClean posted: "That £1,500 for the bike, I'll pay it."

A delighted William described the the West Brom winger's warm-hearted gesture as "amazing".

"Myself and my family can't thank James enough. He truly is a legend with a heart of gold," said William.

"We can't wait to see wee Kaylee's face when she gets her hand cycle bike at Christmas."

McClean, who opted for the Republic after playing at junior level for Northern Ireland, is no stranger to negative publicity, but this is not the first time he has shown a different side of his character.

Last month the father-of-two said he would sponsor a new kit for his old GAA club, Sean Dolan's, which had fallen on hard times after its clubhouse was burned down in an arson attack four years ago.

"It makes our task of rebuilding the club a lot easier when we have the likes of James supporting us," said a club spokesman.

"Fair play, James, for not forgetting your roots, and thanks very much."

McClean also gave £1,000 to a fund in aid of his cancer-stricken former Derry City team-mate Mark Farren, who needs expensive treatment in Germany.

But Creggan native McClean is the target of abuse at Premier League grounds every week, having refused to recognise the England flag before a pre-season friendly and refusing to wear a Remembrance Day poppy at former clubs Wigan and Sunderland because of Bloody Sunday.

His manager at West Brom Tony Pulis said the player will have to get used to the fact that his stance on the English flag and poppies will lead to abuse from rival fans. "He's going to have to accept the booing. He's got broad shoulders and after what he's done, he's going to have to live with it. But he accepts that and will get on with it," said Pulis.

"I've spoken to people who were a little bit concerned that he was getting picked on, but he's a great lad around the place and the lads in the dressing room love him."

McClean incurred the wrath of Rangers fans last week after taunting them on Twitter about their club not being included in the latest Fifa 16 video game.

Belfast Telegraph


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