Golf star Darren Clarke has revealed he will be moving back to Northern Ireland this summer, fuelling speculation he will settle down with his new love, ex-beauty queen Alison Campbell.
Almost four years after he lost his wife Heather to breast cancer the jet-setting sportsman, who spent more than a decade based in London, said he will make the move back home permanently within months.
Indeed, the Dungannon man said he “can’t wait” to move.
The 41-year-old also revealed how he and his new girlfriend, who both come from Co Tyrone, get on “like a house on fire”.
“I can’t wait to get back home again, I really can’t, I’ve missed it,” he told BBC Radio Ulster presenter Alan Simpson.
“London has served its purpose. It was great to be there, easier to commute around the world.
“But at the same time, when I come back home, I enjoy it so much more.”
Mr Clarke began dating Ms Campbell, a former Miss Northern Ireland, last year.
And he has now openly spoken about their new relationship, saying that they are having a “fantastic time”.
“We are getting on great and having a really enjoyable time. We are just getting on fantastic.
“We like the same sort of things and having a great time at the moment.”
The golfer’s romantic side was also revealed after admitting he had sent Ms Campbell, who he described as “a great girl”, gifts on Valentine’s Day.
“I did send her a very nice bunch of roses and different things and bits and pieces,” he said.
“She didn’t even send me a card, how bad is that?” he joked.
But he also said he had “no idea” who Ms Campbell, a famous face in Northern Ireland, was before they met.
“We had a blind date organised by Graeme McDowell (fellow Ulster golf star).
“I had no idea who Alison was whatsoever, absolutely no idea.
“I lived in London, so I had no idea. We met, we talked before we went out and had dinner and stuff — we got on like the proverbial house on fire.”
Mr Clarke also said both his sons Tyrone (11) and Conor (8) have bonded with Ms Campbell.
“She spent a lot of time with the boys, they get on great with her”, and they may end up settling in the north west of the province.
Alison, who is a divorcee, also has two sons, Stuart (21) and Philip (18).
During the interview Mr Clarke, who has recently been golfing in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and India , also spoke of the importance of raising his sons in Northern Ireland.
“I want my kids to grow up here. When I left things weren’t as good as they are now.
“I’m proud to be from Northern Ireland and I want my kids to feel the same sort way.”
He joked: “They are terribly posh, they’ve got terribly posh English accents and hopefully we will get rid of those pretty soon!”
Mr Clarke also touched on how he felt great pride for his home country.
“The south east of England (where he currently lives) is predominantly a transient area ... there isn’t a sense of community.
“Over here I meet people on the street and shake my hand and say ‘good luck Darren’ and wish me well. It’s just different, it’s more friendly here.
“I’m very proud to be from Northern Ireland.”
Following the death of his wife, Mr Clarke was hailed a hero when he famously soldiered on to help take Europe to victory over the US in the 2006 Ryder Cup. When the team collected the cup their blazers were pink — the colour of the charity Breast Cancer Care.
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