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James McClean considered retirement after children questioned abuse directed at him

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Former Derry City winger James McClean

Former Derry City winger James McClean

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Former Derry City winger James McClean

James McClean has admitted he recently considered retirement in the wake of the abuse he receives.

The Republic of Ireland and Stoke City winger recently voiced his frustrations over what he views as a lack of support from his international team-mates in the same way they have backed the recent anti-racism campaign.

Since moving to England from Derry City in 2011, the 31-year-old has received death threats, bullets in the post and suffered abuse both online and during matches.

Now he has admitted that, with his oldest child aged six, the problem is presenting more complicated issues that have forced him into considering his future and how long he wishes to continue playing the game.

"There have been times only recently where I'm thinking 'do we need this?'," he told BBC Radio Foyle.

"I'm 31 now and in a way you're looking at when is the best time to retire. You're putting a date on your retirement where that is not always what you want to do. You want to retire when you're body's not up to the level anymore.

"But my kids are starting to get a bit older and go to games. They're starting to ask questions. I don't want them to hear it first and foremost but then I don't want to have to explain to them why."

McClean also said he has yet to hear from any of his Republic of Ireland team-mates in the wake of his claims that he was left with a 'sour taste' over the lack of support for him in comparison to black footballers such as Wilfred Zaha and David McGoldrick, who have suffered racial abuse.

"If one of them (RoI players) is offended by that then they must feel a level of guilt. To be honest I'm not expecting calls from any of them but I stand by what I said," he said.

"I like every single one of them and I've never had an issue with them. It does hurt a little bit because I know for a fact that if the roles were reversed, I would 100% back them.

"In that sense, that hurts a little bit but in the same sense, I get they want an easy life and that's fair as well. It doesn't mean I don't have to feel a little bit annoyed about it."

McClean has refused to wear a poppy on his match shirts during his time at Sunderland, Wigan, West Brom and Stoke, but says he is not demanding that other Irish players adopt the same approach.

"I understand the whole poppy situation," he said.

"I know some people down south probably don't have a full understanding of what happened up in the north and that's fine.

"I'm not asking players not to wear a poppy because the backlash, that's huge. I've never asked anyone to do that.

"I fully understand that they don't want the backlash and they want an easy life. I get that and have no issue with that but what I'm getting discriminated for, that also affects them but yet they stay quiet.

"As much as I respect everything else, you can't pick and choose what to get behind. That's where I lose that bit of respect when that happens."

McClean says he is not 'naive' enough to think that the abuse will stop now that the spotlight has been shone on it but indicated that he hopes steps will be taken in the right direction.

"I've had a lot of positive feedback," he said.

"It makes me wonder why I didn't kick up a bigger fuss previously. I don't know whether it's just society now with everything that's going on, maybe people are starting to pay more more attention.

"Last night there was a steward at the Bristol City game. I'd never met this guy before and he was very complimentary. He came over and said that he'd listened to the interview (on Talksport) and he said that he didn't know what was going on. He praised me for speaking out.

"These are small steps but you have to start somewhere. Let's wait and see."

Belfast Telegraph