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Why Stoke City midfielder James McClean won’t wear a poppy on his shirt

Stoke City have confirmed James McClean will not wear a poppy on his shirt for two games that lead up to Remembrance Day Sunday.

All EFL clubs don a poppy on the chest in commemoration of the end of the First World War. But the Republic of Ireland international will continue his belief in not wearing the poppy, as he has done at previous clubs Wigan Athletic and West Brom.

With each club marking their respects, the Potters released a statement saying they would respect their player’s decision.

“The Club is proud of its close connections with the Armed Forces and have also invited members of the Armed Forces to join our remembrance at the Middlesbrough fixture.

“However, we recognise that the Poppy means different things to different individuals and communities and (like the Royal British Legion) do not believe that anybody should be forced or even pressured to wear the Poppy against their free will.

“James has informed us that he will not be wearing a Remembrance Day Poppy in our next two games.”

“We respect his decision and his right to follow his own convictions.”

Matches against Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest will be marked by acts of remembrance and McClean, 29, affirmed he still respected those who do wear the poppy.

James McClean said: “I know many people won’t agree with my decision or even attempt to gain an understanding of why I don’t wear a poppy.

“I accept that but I would ask people to be respectful of the choice I have made, just as I’m respectful of people who do choose to wear a poppy.”

McClean was born in the city of Derry, Northern Ireland and raised on the Creggan estate, the site of Bloody Sunday when the British Army shot and killed 14 unarmed civilians during a protest march in 1972.

In a matchday programme while playing for West Brom, the midfielder offered some details behind his beliefs.

“If the poppy was simply about World War One and Two victims alone, I’d wear it without a problem.

“I would wear it every day of the year if that was the thing but it doesn’t. It stands for all the conflicts that Britain has been involved in. Because of the history where I come from in Derry, I cannot wear something that represents that.”

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