Pat Jennings: Statue of legendary Arsenal and Spurs goalkeeper to be unveiled in Newry
A STATUE of Northern Ireland goalkeeping legend Pat Jennings is to be unveiled in Newry next month.
Known to fans as 'Big Pat', the 78-year-old Newry-born former Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur player made his NI debut in 1964, and famously guarded the goal for the squad in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
In total, he made 119 appearances for Northern Ireland, before retiring as a player in 1986, and during his career he won awards including being named the Player’s Player of the Year in 1975/6.
In June of this year he was made a CBE at Windsor Castle for his services to association football and to charity.
A group called the Friends Of Big Pat (FOBP) Committee have worked towards getting a statue of the soccer star for several years, and have received support from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.
The group has confirmed the statue will be installed in Newry's Kildare Street on November 8.
Speaking of the honour, Pat Jennings said: "I’m very proud to say I’m a Newry man. Newry has always been my first home where I grew up and went to school and I still retain a home. I played my first football in Newry and have friends and family living in the city, indeed, my wife Eleanor is also from Newry."
The idea for a statue was first put forward by Newry-born broadcaster Kevin McCallister.
"Three years ago I approached Newry councillor Michael Savage to ask about the possibility of having a statue," he said.
"Very quickly we agreed and to do this we needed a group of people who were willing to do the groundwork formally proposing the statue with Michael taking it to a full council meeting.
"We’ve been very lucky to have such a wonderful experienced group at FOBP."
The group have raised upwards of £100,000 for the project through various fundraising events.
“Local business people have supported this project and indeed ordinary local people. It’s a testament to the respect and high regard that Pat Jennings is held in,” FOPB's Larry Powell said.
The statute has been designed by sculptor Andy Edwards, who created the famous Beatles statue in Liverpool.