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Fans amazing show of support for James McClean after autism diagnosis

“Shows the sort of courage we’ve come to expect from him.”

Hero Dad James and daughter, Willow-Ivy.

Derry born midfielder James with the tri-colour.

Níall FeiritearSunday World

Irish soccer fans have been reacting to James Mc Clean’s “liathróidí” with an unprecedented show of support after he made public his autism diagnosis this week.

The 33-year-old took to social media to describe the difficult decision he wrestled with in making his condition public but did so in order to show his daughter that having the condition won’t stop her reaching her dreams.

“What a father to have your back!” wrote one Twitter user.

Another fan referenced the bravery people associate with the Derry born legend.

“James showing the sort of courage we’ve come to expect from him.”

Whilst another wrote about Mr McClean’s fearlessness, humorously referenced as Gaeilge.

“That man has some liathróidí going public with that given the history of abuse levelled at him in the past. Massive respect for his decision.”

Derry born midfielder James with the tri-colour.

Another fan wrote:

“I’m delighted he’s happy with a diagnosis and it’s great representation to all neurodiverse people.”

Whilst one said simply: “He's a legend.”

A social media user spoke about McClean’s growing reputation: “This lad grows more important and relevant by the day.”

Here is a selection of other comments: “Heartwarming,” “Goat” (greatest of all time), “Many people have this.” “Fair play to him on and off the pitch,” “Class act” and “what a fantastic man.”

In a heroic Instagram post this week, McClean revealed he shared the news due to it being World Autism Acceptance Week.

"Autism awareness week. As you all know, my daughter Willow-Ivy is autistic,” he wrote.

"The last 4 years have been life changing in the most amazing way but also very difficult at times as her daddy watching her overcome so many obstacles in her life and learning how to manage the challenges she faces on a daily basis.

"The more Erin and I learned about autism the more we began to recognise I was very similar to Willow in more ways than we thought.

"I see so many small traits in her that I see in myself. So I decided to go and get an ASD assessment.

"It’s been a bit of a journey and now having a diagnosis I feel it’s time to share it, for the week that’s in it.

"I have debated for a while going public in sharing this as I’ve done this for Willow-Ivy, to let her know that I understand and that being autistic won't and should never hold her back from reaching her goals and dreams.

"Daddy’s girl,” James concluded.

James' wife Erin responded by saying: "Proud of the two of you always.”

James’s team-mates backed him up with support; Gavin Bazunu, Paul Mc Grath, Jeff Hendrick, John O’Shea, Martyn Waghorn, Wigan Athletic, Kevin Long and many, many others, including boxer Jamie Conlan, posted messages of support.

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