Sunderland winger McClean explains turning back on Northern Ireland

Sunderland winger James McClean has explained turning his back on Northern Ireland for the Republic of Ireland.

McClean became the latest player born north of the border to pledge himself to the Republic before breaking into the Sunderland side.

He said: "My choice is 100 per cent down to football reasons. It's always been my dream to play for the Republic because I've always supported them.

"I'm grateful to Northern Ireland for giving me a chance at younger levels as that has given me the opportunity to progress my career. When the chance to sign for Sunderland I thought that would be a good time to try and get into the Republic's thoughts.

"I just have to follow my heart. I've followed the Republic since I was growing up. My reasons are only football reasons, there's no politics involved."

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