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"P*ss off back to Ireland, Paddy" | Niall Quinn details anti-Irish sentiment

Former Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn has shared the threats and abuse he received as a footballer in England.

James McClean and his wife Erin have detailed the abuse they constantly receive on social media amidst a huge debate in the United Kingdom about the vile trolling of footballers.

Quinn played in England at Arsenal, Manchester City, and Sunderland for two decades, winning 91 international caps during his career.

The neo-Nazi terrorist group Combat 18 had a role in the Lansdowne riots in 1995 and Quinn told Ger Gilroy and Eoin Sheahan on OTB AM that he received a threat from the group while playing at Sunderland.

"I did get a visit from the Chief of Durham constabulary, who came to tell me that they had an active Combat 18 unit who they had got word were going to target me and the family at home. I didn't have a public audience to go and discuss that with - and thankfully I didn't - we dealt with it behind the scenes - we were just careful for a little while and it passed away.

"There's a small minority of people who cause this issue, but they get such exposure now on social media and that's why it's so difficult for James (McClean) and his family. I have heard some argue that he brought it on himself - well in fairness to him - he has a right to feel the way he has - his upbringing would tell you that. And he made a point of letting people know."

Quinn said that on one occasion, he was the victim of anti-Irish sentiment after a game.

"I can remember going back to my car, late in the dark, one winter's Saturday night after a home defeat. I was struggling with my knee, I think Aisling was a young child - I was carrying her on my arm and literally, a meatball of a thug walked by and spat right into me - 'P*ss off back to Ireland, Paddy' - I got that, but that was just a one-off incident. It was an incident I kept very much to myself."

Quinn agrees that social media users requiring a passport to sign-up to these platforms would be a good fix for the scourge of anonymous abuse.

"I think it's having too much of an impact now. It's allowing a strong prevalent narrative that is an awful example for our young people. What will they think in five or six years if this all they hear - what's the norm then?

"What are we teaching young people to be - is that what football is meant to be about? Sport is meant to be about something totally opposite to that and I would agree with you there that it's a very fair point that to hold people accountable and removing them should they not be up to scratch - of course, that should happen - this argument for free speech and the masses being able to do what they want - I think we should look at it."

The documentary on Niall Quinn  - From Bootroom to Boardroom - is on Virgin Media Two on Wednesday at 10.15 pm

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