Former Sunderland winger James McClean's generous gesture to help homeless

Former Sunderland winger James McClean, right, has paid for homeless people to stay in a hotel in his home city.
Former Sunderland winger James McClean, right, has paid for homeless people to stay in a hotel in his home city.

Controversial former Sunderland football star James McClean has paid for a group of homeless people from his home city to stay at a hotel.

Winger McClean, who has attracted criticism for refusing to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his shirt each November, covered the cost of four rooms for four nights in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, including the cost of meals

The gesture by the Republic of Ireland international, who played for Sunderland between 2011-13, has made his father "extremely proud".

"It's such a great thing he's done," Patrick McClean said.

"James is always checking back home to see what's going on and if he can help out."

McClean has previously helped pay the funeral costs of a Derry toddler who was tragically killed and also trained with the Oxford Bulls, a team of footballers with Down's syndrome from the city.

His father said Derry's homeless situation was a recent problem which they "don't want to see getting any worse".

"James can't sort this problem on his own but what he wants is to highlight the problem and encourage anybody that can help to please step forward and do it."

McClean, 29, paid for the rooms from Sunday through to Wednesday night and four people accepted the offer to stay after the McClean family searched the city centre for those in need.

Asked if he found it frustrating that many headlines about James McClean were focused on his objection to wearing a poppy, Patrick McClean said: "No, at the minute we're just focused on James because this is who James is.

"James is always looking to help those who are vulnerable or in need of help and he'll always step up to the mark."

He chooses not to wear the poppy due to events in Derry during the province's Troubles.

He was brought up on the Creggan estate, which was also the home of six of the 14 people killed by the British Army on Bloody Sunday in 1972