Given the journey, the signatures secured, the football legends greeted, how fitting it was that Mike Griffin’s time in Rio de Janeiro ended with World Cup winner Mesut Ozil scribbling on his neck.
The Tralee native, who has been lining his Na Gaeil GAA shirt with autographs of footballers past and present since arriving in the Brazilian capital, was at the Maracana for Sunday’s decider. Upon the final whistle, Griffin set about securing one final signature.
“I squished my way into the category one seating area pitch-side, an area of seating reserved for business people and the family and friends of the players,” recounts Griffin.
“I was really hoping to get one of the German players to sign the jersey but had somewhat of a set-back when Miroslav Klose turned me down.”
“He came over and was chatting to a friend. Holding out my pen, I said to him ‘charity, charity’. Because my backpack was in the way he scribbled his signature on my sleeve. Then, messing, he started doodling on my neck.
“All the TV cameras honed in on the two of us. It was incredible. You couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish what has been an incredible journey.”
Griffin returns home on Friday with the shirt that now has the names of 22 great footballers on it and will decide in the coming weeks which charity he will auction off the jersey for.
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