James McClean has revealed that the hurt of being dropped from the Republic of Ireland squad for the first time made up his mind to retire from international football.

The Derryman will earn his 103rd and final cap in the friendly against New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night (Live on RTÉ2/Player).

Speaking to RTÉ Sport's Tony O'Donoghue ahead of that game, McClean said that Ireland manager Stephen Kenny's decision to leave him out for the October double-header with Greece and Gibraltar had confirmed the 34-year-old's instinct that it was time to call it a day in the green shirt.

"It was my choice," McClean said. "It's not because I don’t feel I have the ability to do it more. I feel great body-wise but that now is the right time for me to go out on my terms.

"Playing 90 minutes Saturday-Tuesday and my output never dipped so it’s definitely not a body or ability thing. I just feel there are other factors that have brought me to this decision."

"Feeling great in yourself and being made to feel great are two different things. Every player wants to feel important. That’s one of the factors in why I decided now is the right time to walk away.

"I got my first call-up on 19 February 2012 and had been named in every single squad up until last month. So that hurt.

"I never ever turned down the call. There have been times when I have had injections, come back from injuries when I haven't been right, to play for Ireland. I’ve seen lads pull out with knocks but play for their club two or three days later. That’s never been me. I always believed it was country before club.

"So to be left out obviously hurt. But the sad thing was it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would have. Because I was already with the idea that November was going to be my last anyway, and I told the manager that. So it is what is."

McClean swapped second-tier strugglers Wigan for fourth-tier Wrexham in August. The Welsh club are in contention for back-to-back promotions under high-profile owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

The left-sided defender/midfielder believes that he would have remained in Ireland contention if he had stayed in the Championship.

"If I was still at Wigan, would I have been called up? I think I would have," he said. "I think the whole perception of League 2 is disrespectful. But that's me speculating.

"I believe the squad at Wrexham is better than the squad at Wigan. But because Wigan are in a higher league…

"I had offers to go to the Championship but I was settled at Wigan and wanted to stay. Things happened where I felt I had to make a decision to go elsewhere. Wrexham, I don't think there’s a more exciting project in football at the minute.

"I chose to go Wrexham, I didn’t have to go to Wrexham. When you retire you want to be remembered as being part of something special and I feel Wrexham has the potential to be that. I’m 34 now, I want challenges, not mediocrity."

Does he think he would be called up if he was back home playing for Derry City?

"I don’t think so. I think the perception is different from the reality at times."

Kenny's future as Ireland boss is unclear and McClean didn't fully close the door on suggestions he might come out of retirement at some point.

"Never say never. In my head now, I'm done. I'm retired and I'm at peace with that. But come March if the phone call comes, you would never turn down the phone call, but it's a conversation where the factors would have to be right.

"It's a long time between March and now so we'll see."

Speaking alongside Kenny at the team press conference on Monday, McClean admitted his final appearance would be an emotional moment.

"I've never hid the fact that it means everything," he said. "The Ireland jersey, along with the Derry City jersey, is a jersey that means more to me than anything else ever will.

"Tomorrow night for the last time, I’ll pull it on. When I say it out loud, it is a bit sad that that is going to be the case, but I’ll do what I have done 102 times before and I’ll try to do it with as much pride and as much justice as possible because there is no more special feeling that pulling on the green jersey and representing your country."

Watch Republic of Ireland v New Zealand on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player on Tuesday from 7.30pm, follow a live blog on www.rte.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app or listen to commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra

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