James McClean adds polish to spiky image to reward Martin O’Neill’s faith | Paul Doyle

The combative winger has his detractors on and off the field but he has been the Republic of Ireland’s standout performer in World Cup qualifying, showing finesse as well as tenacity

There was a quirky period in the 1970s and 80s when it seemed that to be a left-winger for the Republic of Ireland, a player also had to be a university graduate in politics or history, as Steve Heighway and Tony Galvin happened to be. The team’s current left-winger, James McClean, did not go to college but he has views on those subjects that have earned him a degree of scorn from people who object simplistically to his refusal to wear a poppy on Remembrance Day.

Another reason some Premier League followers dislike the West Bromwich Albion winger is that his skillset is limited and his tackling does not always recognise the border between full‑blooded and over-the-top. Those are fairer criticisms but, on the other hand, they also allude to the reason why McClean has many admirers: if a footballer plays for years in the Premier League despite not being blessed with much finesse, then he must have exceptional quantities of other qualities, such as energy, moxie and commitment to a cause.

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The combative winger has his detractors on and off the field but he has been the Republic of Ireland’s standout performer in World Cup qualifying, showing finesse as well as tenacityThere was a quirky period in the 1970s and 80s when it seemed that to be a left-winger for the Republic of Ireland, a player also had to be a university graduate in politics or history, as Steve Heighway and Tony Galvin happened to be. The team’s current left-winger, James McClean, did not go to college but he has views on those subjects that have earned him a degree of scorn from people who object simplistically to his refusal to wear a poppy on Remembrance Day.Another reason some Premier League followers dislike the West Bromwich Albion winger is that his skillset is limited and his tackling does not always recognise the border between full‑blooded and over-the-top. Those are fairer criticisms but, on the other hand, they also allude to the reason why McClean has many admirers: if a footballer plays for years in the Premier League despite not being blessed with much finesse, then he must have exceptional quantities of other qualities, such as energy, moxie and commitment to a cause. Continue reading…

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/10/james-mcclean-martin-oneill-ireland-world-cup-paul-doyle

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