In the end, it could only have been one person.
It’s been a rollercoaster year for the Republic of Ireland team. A series of draws in their World Cup qualifying group after a promising start to the campaign was followed by a crushing defeat to eventual group winners Serbia in September.
The ‘Boys in Green’ regrouped in the final two games in October, beating Moldova, and crucially, Wales en route to a World Cup play-off place this month.
That essential goal in the 1-0 Wales win was scored by James McClean, and it is none other than the Derryman that has claimed the adoration of the fans in winning the Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs Player of the Year for 2016/17.
James McClean presented this evening with the Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs Player of the Year 2016/17 award! pic.twitter.com/e7DT3rOVye
— FAIreland ⚽️?? (@FAIreland) November 6, 2017
The winger also scored a key brace in a 3-1 win over Moldova last year as well as THAT winner in Vienna, and is sure to play an important role in the upcoming play-off games against Denmark. The news is a welcome reprieve for McClean, who is currently enduring the annual criticism levelled at him for not wearing a poppy on his West Brom shirt.
— CRISC (@CRISClubs) November 6, 2017
The 28-year-old has earned 55 caps for his country, scoring ten goals in the process.