London (AFP) – James McClean has slammed Declan Rice’s decision to snub the Republic of Ireland in favour of pledging his international allegiance to England.
London-born Rice caused controversy recently when he opted to play for England despite having previously represented the Republic.
McClean played under-21 football for Northern Ireland, but went on to represent the Republic at senior level, where he played alongside Rice until the West Ham midfielder switched countries.
Asked about Rice in an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE, Stoke winger McClean said: “He said he was a proud Irishman. Then he said he was a proud Englishman.
“If he’s both… Good luck to him but I don’t buy it. I think you’re either one or the other.
“I was with Derry City when I got the call-up to play for the North, and I turned it down because it’s not my country, it’s never been my country. I’m an Irishman.
“It’s not just Declan, it’s anyone else. If you’re not proud to be here and we’re a stepping stone, then sod off and play for someone else.
“I’m an Irishman. I grew up on the island of Ireland, simple as that. We only want players here who want to play for Ireland, who feel Irish and are proud to be Irish.”
The highly-rated Rice, who played in three friendlies for Ireland, came on as a substitute for England in their 5-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over the Czech Republic and made his full debut in Monday’s 5-1 win in Montenegro.
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