The Boys in Green drew 1-1 with New Zealand in a game which also might prove to be manager Stephen Kenny’s last, but McClean was able to go out on his own terms in Dublin.
“It was special,” he told RTÉ Sport afterwards.
“I never had to doubt the support that I’ve got here in this stadium. It’s been phenomenal from the second I stepped on the pitch in 2012 to now.
“They’ve been top class but it’s just a shame that it couldn’t end on a win. I won’t dwell on that, I enjoyed the night for what it was and I’ve had a few special memories made tonight.”
McClean’s international career started against the Czech Republic nearly 12 years ago, bringing him to two European Championship finals: in 2012 – where he made one appearance off the bench against Spain – and 2016, where he played in all four of Ireland’s games, including starts in the decisive contests with Italy and France.
He scored 11 international goals, with qualifier efforts against Austria and Wales helping to bring Ireland to the play-offs for the 2018 World Cup, a run that would ultimately fall short against Denmark.
While he was sad to have donned the green for the last time, McClean was adamant that the time was right.
“It is over, it is over. For whatever reasons I’m calling it a day. It’s is the right time and I’ve no regrets.“People have been asking if I’d be teared up and emotional, crying, but I look back with so much happiness. There’s no need to cry, to get emotional, because I’ve lived a dream and loved every minute of playing here.
“You’ll really miss being in camp, and around the lads because it’s a big family. It’s all pulling together to do the best for your country – it doesn’t get any better than that.
“I’ve had the time of my life,” added James.Tags: