‘It’s time to step aside’ – James McClean set for Republic of Ireland farewell
James McClean will walk away from his Republic of Ireland career for personal reasons on Tuesday despite believing he can still do a job for his country.
The 34-year-old announced last month he would retire from international football after the friendly against New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium and he is set for a rousing send-off as he wins his 103rd and final cap.
However the former winger turned wing-back, who joined League Two Wrexham from Wigan this summer, insists the physical demands of the game are not behind the decision to end his 11-and-a-half-year spell in the green shirt.
He told a press conference: “I will be honest with you, it’s not because of my body, or I feel my ability has diminished. I still feel as fit as ever. I still believe I am the best person for the role.
“I have never doubted myself. I played 46 games out of 46 in the Championship last season, 45 of them starts. Ability-wise, I was second for full-backs in goals and assists, and for most successful tackles in the whole league.
“There’s other factors. I have personal reasons and my own reasons for stepping away, I feel now is the right time to step aside.
“Let others come through, I’ve had my time. For me now is the perfect time to step away. I have no regrets.”
McClean, who was first capped by Giovanni Trapattoni in February 2012 during his time at Sunderland, is a veteran of Ireland’s Euro 2012 and 2016 finals appearances.
The nation will not be at next summer’s European Championship in Germany after a disappointing qualification campaign during which the Derry-born player was used sparingly, and he admits his impending departure is tinged with sadness.
McClean said: “I feel grand. I’ve no plans to hang up the boots any time soon. I promised