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Soccer: Stoke's McClean calls for respect over poppy decision

Soccer Football - UEFA Nations League - League B - Group 4 - Republic of Ireland v Wales - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - October 16, 2018 Republic of Ireland's James McClean with Wales manager Ryan Giggs REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

LONDON (Reuters) - Stoke City midfielder James McClean has asked supporters to respect his decision not to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his shirt during matches.

McClean, who comes from a nationalist area of Northern Ireland, also refused to wear a poppy during spells at Sunderland, Wigan Athletic and West Bromwich Albion. The 29-year-old has previously received death threats over his stance.

“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,” McClean said in a statement from the Championship club on Tuesday.

“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.”

Stoke said the rest of the squad would wear poppies on their shirts for league matches against Middlesbrough on Saturday and Nottingham Forest.

“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,” the second tier side said.

“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.”

Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond