Emotional scenes as James McClean bids farewell to Ireland fans

Irish Mirror   21/11/2023 21:33

James McClean waved goodbye to the Aviva Stadium as he was substituted in the 66th minute on his final Ireland appearance.

The Derry man was embraced by his teammates as they paid tribute to a stellar international career.

The 34-year-old exited at 1-1 during his side’s match against New Zealand in Dublin after Matthew Garbett cancelled out Adam Idah’s first-half strike.

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McClean was replaced by Ryan Manning with just over twenty minutes to play.

Speaking after the game, McClean said: “I never had any doubt [about] the support I’ve gotten here in this stadium, it’s been absolutely phenomenal from the second I stepped on the pitch in 2012 until now.”

He continued: “It’s a shame I couldn’t end on a win but you know I won’t dwell on it. I enjoyed the night for what it was and a few special memories were made tonight.”

McClean said it was great to be joined by his children and said he hopes his son will be able to make his own memories in the Aviva Stadium one day.

He also confirmed his Ireland career was “over” and said he thinks it’s the “right time” and stressed that he has “no regrets”.

Fans and former players also paid tribute on social media as Kevin Kilbane posted: ‘Great reception for James McClean while leaving the pitch tonight. Fully deserved for a great servant of Ireland.’

Another fan commented: ‘103 caps, some innings from James McClean, just our 7th centurion in mens football, and we'll be waiting a good while for the next! brilliant servant and a wonderful character!’

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