James McClean: Pain of being dropped swung retirement call
James McClean has revealed that the hurt of being dropped from the Republic of Ireland squad for the first time made up his mind to retire from international football.
The Derryman will earn his 103rd and final cap in the friendly against New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night (Live on RTÉ2/Player).
Speaking to RTÉ Sport's Tony O'Donoghue ahead of that game, McClean said that Ireland manager Stephen Kenny's decision to leave him out for the October double-header with Greece and Gibraltar had confirmed the 34-year-old's instinct that it was time to call it a day in the green shirt.
"It was my choice," McClean said. "It's not because I don’t feel I have the ability to do it more. I feel great body-wise but that now is the right time for me to go out on my terms.
"Playing 90 minutes Saturday-Tuesday and my output never dipped so it’s definitely not a body or ability thing. I just feel there are other factors that have brought me to this decision."
"Feeling great in yourself and being made to feel great are two different things. Every player wants to feel important. That’s one of the factors in why I decided now is the right time to walk away.
"I got my first call-up on 19 February 2012 and had been named in every single squad up until last month. So that hurt.
"I never ever turned down the call. There have been times when I have had injections, come back from injuries when I haven't been right, to play for Ireland. I’ve seen lads pull out with knocks but play for their club two or three days later. That’s never been me. I always believed it was country before club.
"So to be left out obviously hurt. But the sad thing was it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would have. Because I was already with the idea that November