After being abused by the Sunderland supporters who used to chant his name, James McClean fancied giving some back at the conclusion of West Bromwich Albion’s 1-0 Premier League victory yesterday.
The Republic of Ireland winger ran towards the Sunderland end and pumped his fists in triumph, prompting an angry response from the away fans and Black Cats players including Danny Graham.
McClean has been a target of opposing fans since refusing to wear a poppy on Remembrance Day in 2012 – then at Wigan Athletic – and former club Sunderland were particularly vicious with their taunts.
According to The Guardian, large sections of the 2,700 Sunderland fans chanted “No Surrender to the IRA” at The Hawthorns, but Pulis suggested that the 26-year-old was foolish to respond.
“He’s not the sharpest tool in the box, and that’s not being disrespectful to him,” Pulis told The Guardian. “He’s a smashing lad, a really really nice lad. The lads here have really taken to him.”
Pulis, who claimed not to see the incident, added: “If he’s out of order, I’ll have a word with him.”
McClean had addressed his forgoing of the poppy, and not singing God Save the Queen, during a pre-season tour with the Baggies in the summer, in the programme for Sunderland’s visit.
“If the poppy was simply about World Wars One and Two alone, I would wear it without a problem,” The Guardian quotes him as saying. “It stands for all the conflicts that Britain has been involved in. Because of the history of where I come from in Derry, I cannot wear something that represents that.”
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