Aiden McGeady’s career is undergoing something of a renaissance having not made the impact which was perhaps expected of him following his arrival at Everton from Spartak Moscow in 2014.
A loan move to Sheffield Wednesday signalled that he was only going to regress further until finally retiring. But a successful loan spell at Preston North End has turned things around for the Glaswegian and finally cutting the chord with Everton to join up with his boss at Deepdale Simon Grayson in Sunderland on a permanent deal seems a shrewd move.
Now in a World Cup season, the 31-year-old surely has aspirations of making it to one more major tournament before hanging up his boots and could do so with Ireland. The Boys in Green are currently joint-top of their World Cup qualifying group with Serbia, with their fate very much in their own hands with four games to go between now and next summer’s tournament in Russia.
However, as prosperous as things look for the player personally and his international side, McGeady still says some Scotland fans refuse to respect the decision he made very early on in his career to represent the country his grandparents hail from.
“I still get stick if I go out in Glasgow, say on a night out or that, and you’ve got a Tartan Army fan they’ll have a go at me still,” the former Celtic man told Simon Ferry of Open Goal.
McGeady also says the stick he took while playing in Scotland spurred him on knowing the fans wouldn’t boo a player they considered substandard.
“I took it as a compliment. You know, when you’re going away to Tynecastle, Ibrox and Fir Park, they’re booing you when you get the ball. Take it as a compliment because if they didn’t rate you, if they didn’t think you were a good player, they wouldn’t bother.”
Speaking on deciding to play for Ireland, McGeady explains that it was a decision he made when he was in the very early stages of his development and alludes to the fact that if Scottish football’s selection policies at underage level had been different Ireland may not now have his services.
“The whole Ireland situation happened when I was younger and I ended up choosing Ireland because Scotland said I couldn’t play for them at that age and Ireland didn’t have that same policy.
“I ended up being comfortable, playing U-15, U-16, U-17 and it was only when I got in the first team at Celtic it was like, ‘Why is this guy playing for Ireland?’ They tried to get me back to play with Scotland and I was like, ‘No, I’m happy with Ireland.’ To grow up with these guys and now go back on it…
“I look at it now, I played at two Euros, you know what I mean; I played at two major finals. Obviously, Scotland haven’t qualified for anything for a long time.”
It’s clear that the former Queen’s Park youth player is happy with the decisions he made internationally and has very few regrets about the path he’s chosen.
Ireland fans will now just hope that he can have a solid season with the Black Cats and help Ireland make it to their first World Cup since 2002.
You can watch the full interview with McGeady below.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena