James McClean: 'How do you tell your kids that daddy is hated so much?'

James McClean: 'How do you tell your kids that daddy is hated so much?'

Stoke City's James McClean takes a knee before Tuesday night's win against Sheffield Wednesday. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

Nine years have passed since James McClean received his first death threat and not much has changed since.

On Wednesday morning, the Ireland international shared the latest example sent from a boy ("he looks about 13/14") to his brother Patrick, a professional footballer with Glentoran.

"My brother received a message last night: 'I'm sorry what I said about you and your brother and your brother's kids. I don't want them to burn in a house fire. I would much rather James go up in flames on a chair while his kids are tied opposite to him on two separate chairs forced to watch their stinky Fenian rebel b****** of a da burn to the crisp. Maybe that's better than dying in a house fire.' And a smiley face," he told OTB AM.

"I'm looking at this and it's actually sent by a kid and you're thinking, wow. I'm thinking back to me at that age, that hate shouldn't be in you. Where is he learning that? It's just social media and society nowadays, it's a dangerous place.

"I hope and pray that none of my kids at that age have that level of hatred within them. If I did see something like that, I'd sit them down, and first and foremost, I'd like to know where that hate came home from and I'd do my best to educate them. This is unacceptable, you can't be saying these things, your words have consequences."

McClean, who has three children, aged seven, five, and three, with his wife Erin who this week wrote about the daily threats their family has had to endure over the past decade.

"How do you tell your kids that your daddy is hated so much? It's not a nice conversation to have but I'm just going to try and be as honest as I can," said James.

"They're already asking questions about why my daddy gets shouted at during games and booed, and we just tell them that it's just because daddy is playing against the other team and they don't want daddy's team to win but that will only get you so far."

McClean says the support he has received from his Stoke and Ireland team-mates "means a lot", while noting that other players have told him about being targeted by anti-Irish abuse.

"I've had a lot of messages recently from ex-players, players still playing, and the general public saying that they're subjected to Irish abuse in the UK on a daily basis, and they don't speak up. 

"This is not just about me but about them as well. No longer are we going to stand by and accept the Irish abuse, we should be proud to be Irish and not be abused for it. 

"Things like being called a Paddy, a Fenian, a leprechaun, a pikey, it's not acceptable and we're not going to accept it anymore and I want those people to stand up and challenge that. 

"We're not in fear and we shouldn't be treated like we're in fear but now is the time to stand up, be proud of who you are, and not accept basically being seen as second class.

"I couldn't be any more proud of being Irish. I take that everywhere with me and that'll never stop. 

"I've had a lot of support recently, publicly from my teammates at Stoke and Ireland, and that means a lot. 

"Maybe the tide is turning and maybe they're thinking it's not okay and we are going to take a stand. And if that's the first step on the road to stopping them, it's a big step."

Bringing up the "ill-judged" Instagram post from last March of him wearing a balaclava, for which McClean apologised and was fined two weeks' wages, he said: "It annoys me that I've given them some kind of justification to say you bring it on yourself."

McClean adds that he has reported threats to the police but nothing has come from those investigations.

"When we were sent bullets in the post and the cops get them, when you're being told you're going to be shot and the cops receive that as well, and the cops have the letters... We'll report everything and the cops over the years have had all the information they need, names, whatever, but nothing's ever done."

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