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Former Reading and Leeds manager Brian McDermott has always felt that he should have played for Ireland, and is devastated that one U17 cap for England ruined his chances.

Born in Slough to Irish parents, McDermott joined Arsenal, where he would make his debut at 17 in an XI that included Liam Brady, Frank Stapleton and David O'Leary.

He went on to appear 61 times for the Gunners, before moving on to Fulham, IFK Norrköping, Oxford United, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Exeter City and Yeovil Town in a 14-year playing career.

His father was from Sligo, his mother was from Clare, and yet McDermott never got the opportunity to play for the Republic of Ireland.

'I felt like a complete imposter'

Speaking on The Football Show, McDermott revealed the sad story that meant he never got to don the green jersey that he still dreams about to this day.

"It's not so sad now that I've come to some sort of terms with it," McDermott said. "When I was 17, in 1979, I had a choice of either Ireland or England.

"Don Howe was the English assistant manager at the time, and he was at Arsenal. He sort of said, 'you've got to play for England', this that and the other.

"I've got Irish bones, Irish blood. I played for England in a youth tournament. I remember about six to eight months later, after playing in this thing, I remember thinking: 'Oh my God! I don't belong here!'

"I felt like a complete imposter as far as what country I was playing for. That's no disrespect to [England], I live here. But my blood is completely Irish!

"I felt a complete traitor, and I felt like that for years and years and years!"

McDermott's dream of just one cap

McDermott has had issues with alcohol and mental health throughout his career and life. When he was at Arsenal, he had a sense of imposter syndrome, and was driven to alcohol later in life as well.

However, he suggested that some of his problems with his mental health started when he made the wrong choice at 17.

"It was one of the main issues I had, and why I turned to something I shouldn't have done," McDermott said. "Just to try and numb that feeling.

"I always say to people, I'd give anything for one Irish cap. Maybe if I had gotten that one Irish cap I wouldn't have gone through the stuff I went through in my life.

"I think about it every day. Even to this day."

"I talk about this a lot," McDermott added. "I talk about identity. I talk about what it was like for me. Not much later on, I knew.

"I was thinking, this is the biggest mistake I've ever made in my whole life! Sometimes I dream I played for Ireland, have the shirt, and I wake up sort of elated. Then I think, 'Oh my God! I didn't!'"

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