James McClean reveals pride at autism diagnosis during frank Late Late Show interview

James McClean reveals pride at autism diagnosis during frank Late Late Show interview

FOOTBALLER James McClean has spoken of his pride at his autism diagnosis during a frank interview with Patrick Kielty on The Late Late Show.

The Wrexham and Ireland midfielder, 34, said he was initially hesitant about getting tested as a diagnosis could further make him a target for rival fans.

Derry-born McClean has long received abuse for his decision not to wear a poppy on his jersey, a topic he also addressed with Kielty.

However, he said he opened up about autism to raise awareness about the condition and hopes it will help strengthen the bond with his autistic six-year-old daughter.

'Doing this for my daughter'

In his first appearance on the show, McClean told new host Kielty how he initially wondered if he was autistic when learning about the signs of autism during his daughter's assessments.

He said: "You're looking going, 'you're kind of a bit like that yourself'.

"I don't really like being invited to events or socialising — after a while I just want to go and be in my own company.

"I've got a small group of friends and family and people that I trust.

"You just see little things like that.

"I was hesitant for a while about going and getting tested and getting a diagnosis because of the job I do, it would just be another [source of] ammunition to give people.

"But I thought, I'm doing this for my daughter, if it helps me get a better understanding of her.

"I went and done the test and it came back that I'm also on the spectrum and I'm proud of it."

Addressing the abuse he receives from the terraces, the father-of-four said that he can take the flak.

However, he said that threats towards his family were a low point in his career.

"I'm quite headstrong, you can shout abuse at me all day long and I'll fight fire with fire," he said.

"I don't mind that but it becomes a different kettle of fish when your children get brought into it.

"There was an incident which was very publicly highlighted, where — I know it's false threats but it's still not nice to read — where they say they're going to burn your house down with your kids in it.

"They're going to tie your kids up and your wife up and make you watch while the house burns down."

'Arrogance and ignorance' over history

McClean said he always expected to receive abuse over his poppy stance and was prepared for it.

However, having grown up in the Creggan estate in Derry, where several of the victims of Bloody Sunday lived, he said he was never going to change his views.

While he told Kielty that he understands people's opposition to his beliefs, he only asks that others respect his views as he respects theirs.

"I was a derry lad growing up, I have my beliefs — just because I became a footballer in England doesn't mean I was going to change them," he said.

"There's two sides to that history but over there [in England], there's an arrogance and an ignorance where they're taught one side of their history."

He added: "That's been the frustration because I understand their beliefs — I don't go around trying to push my beliefs on them.

"But what I ask in return is, people have different backgrounds, people have different upbringings, different beliefs — you have yours, I have mine, just respect mine.

"You don’t have to agree with them, because I don’t agree with yours, but I don't try to force mine upon you.

"But over there it's trying to be forced upon me and that's what I have an issue with."

You can watch Kielty's full Late Late Show interview with McClean below.