Sunderland Association Football Club Current Players
- Origin:Republic of Ireland
- Join Date:09/08/2011
James McClean’s amazing rise to prominence was real Roy of the Rovers stuff.
The lightning-quick Irishman was a virtual unknown when he joined Sunderland from Derry City in summer 2011 having impressed in the Airtricity League on the Emerland Isle.
Sunderland paid just £350,000 to sign a player who must now be worth many, many times more.
James is blessed with bags of pace, the ability to beat a man and abundant confidence. Add to that a superb delivery and you’ve got a pretty explosive package.
He began his career with Irish side Institute, but made just one appearance before heading over to Derry City, where he spent three years and played 73 games, scoring an impressive 18 goals.
James was turning heads and Sunderland swooped, though he was initially billed as a backup player and didn’t make his debut for the Black Cats until December 2011.
But what a debut it was, coinciding with Martin O’Neill’s first game in charge. Blackburn were the opponents as James stepped off the bench and helped change the game as Sunderland recorded a late win.
He missed just one more game all season and scored his first goal against Wigan in January 2012, heading in from close range after seeing his own effort saved.
James finished his first season with six goals in 29 appearances and picked up the club’s official Young Player of the Year award.
Though he represented Northern Ireland at youth level, James opted to declare himself eligible for the Republic and made his full international debut against the Czech Republic in February 2012.
He also represented his country at Euro 2012 – a fairytale end to a whirlwind season.
Want to buy this player's replica shirt? Click here to shop online.