Sporting legends support memorial fundraiser for Irish footballer

Sporting legends support memorial fundraiser for Irish footballer

Legends from soccer, GAA and rugby have come out in support of a campaign to raise funds for a memorial for an Irish footballer who had immense success in the game.

Patrick O'Connell, from Dublin, was the first Irishman to play and captain Manchester United before steering Real Betis to their only La Liga title in 1935 as their manager.

Mr O'Connell also managed Barcelona, saving them from extinction during the Franco era.

Sporting legends support memorial fundraiser for Irish footballerJohann Cruyff signing a Barcelona shirt for the Patrick O'Connell Memorial Fund.

Big names from the world of soccer such as Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Sir Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks and Luis Figo have signed and donated shirts to be auctioned to raise money for a memorial befitting Mr O'Connell's football achievements in London.

Luis Figo said: "Please convey to the family my wishes that they raise enough money to honour their grandfather."

Sporting legends support memorial fundraiser for Irish footballerFranz Beckenbauer signing a Germany shirt for the Patrick O'Connell Memorial Fund.

Sadly despite all this success Mr O'Connell died destitute in London in 1959 and is buried in an unmarked grave at St Mary's Cemetery, Kensal Road, London.

Sporting legends support memorial fundraiser for Irish footballerThe unmarked grave of Patrick O'Connell.

Other football stars to contribute signed jerseys are Roy Keane, Paul McGrath, Paolo Maldini, Patrick Kluivert, Marco Van Basten, Frank Rjikaard, Gheorge Hagi, David Beckham, Gareth Bale and Wayne Rooney.

The shirts are on display at the Belfast Celtic Museum in Belfast.

There is also a GAA legends shirt which has been signed by the likes of Brian Cody, Henry Shefflin and Liam Griffin, while London Irish rugby club have donated a shirt signed by rugby icons JJ Williams, Mike Gibson, Ollie Campbell and Lawrence Dalagllio.

On Monday, November 17, two runners from Carrickfergus in Co. Antrim will run 105 miles from Windsor Park in Belfast to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin to raise funds.

The run by Gary Connolly and Gillian Cordner will also commemorate Ireland winning their first ever title - the 1914 British Home Championship.

Sporting legends support memorial fundraiser for Irish footballerRepublic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill signing a N. Ireland shirt for the Patrick O'Connell Memorial Fund.

Mr O'Connell captained Ireland to a 3-0 victory against England at Ayresome Park and was part of the team that clinched the title at Windsor Park against Scotland.

The event, 'Un Paseo Por Don Patricio', is hoped to be completed by the time of the Republic of Ireland's friendly game against the USA on Tuesday, November 18.

Full details are on their website: www.pocfund.com.


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