JAMES McClean scooped the RTE Sports Personality of the Year last night and said becoming the first Derryman to captain the Republic of Ireland was the highlight of his career.
The Creggan winger was Ireland’s best player in a World Cup qualification campaign that ultimately ended in a bitterly disappointing play-off hammering to Denmark.
His memorable goal away to Wales earned Martin O’Neill’s men the runner-up spot in Group D but they fell at the last hurdle on the road to Russia.
McClean, preparing for West Brom’s Premier League clash against Manchester United this afternoon, thanked the supporters as he received his award from RTÉ Soccer correspondent Tony O’Donoghue in Birmingham, and reflected on his year.
“It means a lot. It’s the Irish public voting for me. For them to vote for me is something special, something I’m immensely proud of,” he said.
“Captaining my country, for me, I don’t think there’s ever going to be an an honour that tops that. To be the first Derryman too to ever wear the armband on my 50th cap is something I’ll take to the grave with me.
“That’s probably been the highlight of the year to be quite honest.
“It’d be a nice way to top it off by getting a goal and a much-needed three points. We need as many of then as we can get at the minute. It would be a nice way to end the weekend and the celebrations.”