A PREMIER League star at the centre of a Remembrance Day row was booed by his own supporters as he took to the field for the first time since the incident.
Northern Ireland-born James McClean received a Twitter death threat after refusing to wear a poppy on his Sunderland shirt during the team's game at Everton over the Remembrance Sunday weekend. Today he was jeered by a sizeable section of Sunderland fans when he came on as a 70th minute substitute in his sides 3-1 win at Fulham.
Speaking after the match, Sunderland manager Martin ONeill said his player would not be put off by the booing, saying: "James will deal with it". ONeill highlighted the case of TV presenter John Snow who declined to wear a poppy on air and added: "It's a free choice. James has lived with a lot of things, and he's getting death threats now, which doesn't help."
Northumbria Police are investigating an alleged death threat against the 23-year-old midfielder posted on Twitter. A 29-year-old Manchester doorman, who claimed to have served in the British Army, is alleged to have posted images of bullets on the players timeline and also sent one of his threats to Sinn Fein newspaper An Phoblacht saying the player deserves to be shot dead and his body be dragged past the cenotaph.
The club previously said the players original decision not to wear a poppy, which provoked anger among some supporters, was James' personal choice. McClean, who was born in Derry and brought up on the city's Creggan Estate, had to endure online sectarian abuse after his decision to turn his back on Northern Ireland and represent the Republic of Ireland at international level.
He was forced to delete his Twitter account, which he illustrated with an image of Free Derry Corner, following a number of sectarian postings. Yesterday Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle, Raymond McCartney, said: "The right of people not to feel intimidated into wearing a poppy must be recognised. "That includes professional footballers. James McLean's personal choice in this regard should be respected".