James McClean has explained why he refused to wear a poppy-embroidered shirt like the rest of his Wigan team-mates for last night’s Championship clash at Bolton.
This weekend’s round of fixtures will see English clubs wear poppies on their jerseys to commemorate Remembrance Sunday on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.
However, Derry-born Republic of Ireland international McClean, 25, took the personal decision not to wear a shirt emblazoned with a poppy at the Macron Stadium.
Wigan’s website published a letter from McClean addressed to Wigan chairman Dave Whelan before kick-off last night in which the winger clarified his stance.
McClean said: “I have complete respect for those who fought and died in both World Wars — many I know were Irish-born. I have been told that your own grandfather Paddy Whelan, from Tipperary, was one of those.
“But the poppy is used to remember victims of other conflicts since 1945 and this is where the problem starts for me.
“For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different.
“Please understand, Mr Whelan, that when you come from Creggan like myself or the Bogside, Brandywell or the majority of places in Derry, every person still lives in the shadow of one of the darkest days in Ireland’s history — even if, like me, you were born nearly 20 years after the event. It is just a part of who we are, ingrained into us from birth.
“Mr Whelan, for me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles.
“It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people. I just cannot do something that I believe is wrong.”
McClean came on as a 58th minute substitute for Wigan in last night’s 3-1 defeat to Bolton.
Meanwhile, Stoke City boss Mark Hughes doesn’t believe Glenn Whelan will be fit for Friday’s Euro qualifier against Scotland but, with the player desperately keen to be given a chance, his club manager is willing to allow him travel to Dublin next week to be assessed by Ireland’s medical team.
Hughes said: “If we had a game this time next week he wouldn’t be playing for us because it would be too soon and it would be too much of a risk. But I know Glenn absolutely wants to be part of the Ireland team, so I’m sure he will meet up with them and it’s up to the Irish FA (FAI) to make the right decision.”
Meanwhile, Seamus Coleman should be fit for the Scotland game despite sitting out Everton’s 3-0 Europa League win against Lille.
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