James McClean retires from Republic of Ireland aged 34 after 102 caps with the Wrexham star set to play his last game in friendly against New Zealand next month… as he insists it is ‘the right time to step aside’
- The former Sunderland player said it has ‘meant the world’ to represent Ireland
- The 34-year-old winger scored 11 goals for his country and played in two Euros
James McClean has confirmed he will retire from international football at the end of this year as he insists it is the ‘right time to step aside’.
Ireland’s friendly at home to New Zealand next month is set to provide the stage for the Derry native’s final match.
The Irish centurion made his senior debut in 2012 and has so far won 102 caps for his country, scoring 11 goals and playing in two European Championships.
In a post on social media, the 34-year-old said: ‘I have come to a point, one that truth be told you never think is going to come but here we are, where I am announcing my retirement from international football at the end of the 2023 season.
‘I have spoken with Stephen Kenny & the New Zealand match in November at the Aviva Stadium will be the last time that I will celebrate pulling on the green jersey as a player and give me a chance to say goodbye to the best fans in the world.
James McClean applauds Irish fans at the end of their match against France on March 27
The 34-year-old said: ‘It will be heartbreaking not to be involved beyond this year, but I feel now is the right time to step aside without any regrets’
‘It has the meant the absolute world and more to be able to pull on the green jersey with honour, step out onto a football pitch – especially at the Aviva Stadium – to represent our great country, standing singing Amhrán na bhFiann ready to go out into battle with your fellow countrymen.
‘Nothing has ever come close. I gave absolutely everything I had of myself to ensure that I did the jersey, the fans and the country proud, and know that I never took it for granted each time. I hope that showed.
‘It will be heartbreaking not to be involved beyond this year, but I feel now is the right time to step aside without any regrets. I lived my own and every young Irish footballer’s dream – and represented this country with pride.
‘I want to thank all my managers – Giovanni, Martin, Mick and Stephen – for me giving me the opportunities; all my teammates; the staff, everyone from the coaching staff, right down to those at the hotel who looked after us; you, the Irish fans; and finally, a special thank you to my wife Erin for holding the fort back home with the kids – your unwavering and selfless support has allowed me to make the most of every second of my childhood dream.
‘Thank you, Ireland – it’s been the biggest privilege and as always, an honour.’
There were some doubts over McClean’s future with Ireland after he made his move to the fourth tier of English football from Wigan to Wrexham, which prompted manager Stephen Kenny to say it was ‘not ideal’.
However, the former Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City player defended the move.
He added: ‘Thank you, Ireland – it’s been the biggest privilege and as always, an honour’
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