James McClean: ‘I’ve never hid the fact the Ireland jersey means everything to me - along with the Derry City one’
An emotional James McClean revealed that the Ireland jersey means everything to him ahead of his final international appearance against New Zealand on Tuesday night.
The Derryman, 34, will make his 103rd bow for the Boys in Green as he draws the curtain down on that chapter of his career.
But McClean insists that wearing the Ireland jersey - similarly to the Derry City jersey - means more to him than any other.
“I’ve never hid the fact that it means everything, the Ireland jersey,” he revealed. “Along with the Derry City jersey, it’s the jersey that means more to me than anything else ever will.
“Tomorrow night, for the last time, I’ll pull it on. When I say it out loud, it’s a bit sad that’s going to be the case.
“But I’ll do what I’ve done 102 times before, I’ll try and do it with as much pride and as much justice as possible.”
And hsi international boss Stephen Kenny - who gave McClean his debut his League of Ireland debut with Derry City over a decade ago - added: "Most players don't go out on their own terms but James is doing that now.
“I had the pleasure of giving James his debut when he was a young player at Derry City.
“He had tremendous determination and he went on to play for Sunderland and a variety of clubs he played for when he showed fortitude, real mental strength.
“He had great skills as a left winger, very direct, a high number of goals and assists for a winger and always worked tirelessly for the team.
“And then he had to adapt in his career. Some fade away from top level football because age catches up with them.
“He adapted and became a left back or wing back, you have to be able to adapt, it was terrific really. It shows his quality.
“He deserves credit for the career he has had. 103 caps is something special.”
"That was a special time. We were a local team, we were all mates..."— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) November 20, 2023
James McClean and Stephen Kenny go back a long way. All the way back to Derry City where the Ireland manager gave a teenage McClean his debut.#RTEsoccer#IRLNZLpic.twitter.com/vBJGqlRbPg