BLACK Cats star James McClean has received death threats on Twitter.
Messages threatening to have him shot and containing sectarian abuse have been directed at the former Northern Ireland U-21 footballer after his selection to play for the Republic of Ireland at the Euro 2012 finals next month.
The Sunderland AFC winger was recently named by national manager Giovanni Trapattoni in the squad.
McClean has been subjected to abuse from unhappy Northern Ireland fans since he declared for the Republic, having been brought through the ranks by the Irish FA.
The 23-year-old has previously only been capped once at senior level for the Republic as a substitute.
But following a successful stint on Wearside, he was tipped for Euro 2012 success by Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill, who had a successful career as a Northern Ireland international.
McClean took to Twitter to share his joy regarding the squad selection with his thousands of online followers.
He said: “Absolutely honoured and couldn’t be happier to have been called up to represent my country at the euros no better feelin! #COYBIG #ireland #euro12”.
However, among the messages of congratulations, were posts including threats to kill and sectarian abuse.
One Twitter user, with the account ‘RobbieLittle@PotKettleBlack3’, posted abusive name-calling and also said: “il make sure you get shot when you set foot back into gods country.”
Another using the name ‘James W Magee@JamesWMagee07’ posted: “U deserve to be shot for that comment!! Your playing for Ireland and not the country you were born in (NI).”
Both messages have been deleted and McClean is no longer on Twitter.
McClean, who carries an Irish passport and identifies himself on Twitter as a “Irish professional footballer”, made a general response following the abuse.
He said: “Love the dogs abuse am gettin of shock N.I fans, just worry about watchin ur own country at the euros... oh wait #mybad #awkward haha.”
Last month, McClean, who made seven appearances for Northern Ireland’s U-21 team while at Derry City, said he felt uncomfortable playing at international level for the underage teams.
He said: “You’re looking around as a Catholic and seeing all the Union Jacks and listening to the songs the fans sing and I just didn’t feel at home at all.
“Even in the squads I felt like a bit of an outsider.
“There weren’t too many Catholics, it just didn’t feel right.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland declined to comment on the incident.
A spokesman said: “We don’t discuss individual cases. However, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk we will inform them accordingly.
“We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk.”