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Wigan Footballer James McClean Explains Why He Doesn't Wear A Poppy

McClean, who is Irish, has stressed that he has "complete respect" for veterans of the World Wars.

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Wigan midfielder and Irish international footballer James McClean, who was born in Derry in Northern Ireland, has written a letter explaining his decision not to wear a remembrance poppy like the rest of his teammates.

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McClean was booed repeatedly for not wearing a poppy at the match between the Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic at Macron Stadium on Friday night.

The footballer has previously received death threats for his decision over the past few years not to wear a poppy at matches.

The footballer said that "for me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles" as it would to be a remembrance for those soldiers who died in the World Wars.

He made reference to the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, in which 13 civilians were shot dead by the British army at a civil rights demonstration in Londonderry.

Dear Mr Whelan I wanted to write to you before talking about this face to face and explain my reasons for not wearing a poppy on my shirt for the game at Bolton. I have complete respect for those who fought and died in both World Wars - many I know were Irish-born. I have been told that your own Grandfather Paddy Whelan, from Tipperary, was one of those. I mourn their deaths like every other decent person and if the Poppy was a symbol only for the lost souls of World War I and II I would wear one. I want to make that 100% clear .You must understand this. But the Poppy is used to remember victims of other conflicts since 1945 and this is where the problem starts for me. For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different. Please understand, Mr Whelan, that when you come from Creggan like myself or the Bogside, Brandywell or the majority of places in Derry, every person still lives in the shadow of one of the darkest days in Ireland's history – even if like me you were born nearly 20 years after the event. It is just a part of who we are, ingrained into us from birth. Mr Whelan, for me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles – and Bloody Sunday especially - as I have in the past been accused of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII. It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people. I am not a war monger, or anti-British, or a terrorist or any of the accusations levelled at me in the past. I am a peaceful guy, I believe everyone should live side by side, whatever their religious or political beliefs which I respect and ask for people to respect mine in return. Since last year, I am a father and I want my daughter to grow up in a peaceful world, like any parent. I am very proud of where I come from and I just cannot do something that I believe is wrong. In life, if you're a man you should stand up for what you believe in. I know you may not agree with my feelings but I hope very much that you understand my reasons. As the owner of the club I am proud to play for, I believe I owe both you and the club's supporters this explanation. Yours sincerely, James McClean

James McClean has every right to make a personal decision that's important to & reflects his, his community & his country's experience.

Niall Ó Donnghaile@NiallSFFollow

James McClean has every right to make a personal decision that's important to & reflects his, his community & his country's experience.

12:12 PM - 08 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Fair play James McClean. Want to wear a poppy? Wear one. Don't want to wear a poppy? Don't.

Paula @PaulaCarvilleFollow

Fair play James McClean. Want to wear a poppy? Wear one. Don't want to wear a poppy? Don't.

9:07 AM - 08 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

I will wear a Poppy in remembrance of uncle shot dead in Derry. James McClean explained why he can't. Eloquently. Respectfully. So leave it.

Deric Henderson@derichendersonFollow

I will wear a Poppy in remembrance of uncle shot dead in Derry. James McClean explained why he can't. Eloquently. Respectfully. So leave it.

8:33 PM - 07 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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