Republic of Ireland winger James McClean has received death threats after being included in Giovanni Trappatoni’s squad for Euro 2012.
McClean played at under-21 level for his native Northern Ireland, a British-controlled province, but took the controversial decision to “cross the border” and pursue a senior international career with the independent Republic.
The 23-year-old, a rising star with English Premier League side Sunderland, was included in veteran Italian manager Trappatoni’s squad on Monday after just one substitute appearance for the side.
McClean told the Daily Mail: “To be called up to represent Ireland has always been a personal dream of mine and to be associated with players who I have watched myself is very special. I can’t wait to join up with the squad and start to focus on the championships.”
Irish state law allows anyone born in Northern Ireland to accept public office in the Republic and, consequently, the rules of the Football Association of Ireland, which is only responsible for the game south of the border, allow any player born on the island of Ireland to represent the Republic.
McClean’s announcement was met with some messages of support, but also sectarian abuse and death threats.
The population of Northern Ireland is largely Protestant, with Catholics in a minority, whereas the situation is reversed in the Republic.
McClean responded to the attacks by tweeting: “Love the dogs’ abuse am gettin off shock N.I fans, just worry about watchin ur own country at the euros ... oh wait #mybad #awkward haha.”
A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman told the BBC on Tuesday: “We don’t discuss individual cases, however, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk, we will inform them accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk.”