Belfast Telegraph

Munich hero Gregg hails Rory as Irish Open to boost his kids' charity

By Victoria Leonard

Manchester United legend Harry Gregg says he is "really and truly humbled" to receive a pledge of support from golf superstar Rory McIlroy's charitable foundation ahead of next week's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

The Holywood golfer's Rory Foundation has announced that the Harry Gregg Foundation will benefit from the tournament, which will take place at Portstewart Golf Club from July 4-9.

Founded in 2015, the Harry Gregg Foundation is a local youth football charity that benefits thousands of people each week by organising sport and other health, lifestyle, educational, heritage and social inclusion activities.

The group aims to cater for all sections of the community, to promote positive changes, and to provide opportunities for young people to fulfil their dreams.

McIlroy, who is set to defend his Irish Open title at the tournament, said that he was "proud to be getting involved" with the organisation.

"I first met Harry Gregg at a game in Windsor Park last year and we really hit it off," he recalled.

"Being a big football fan and a Manchester United supporter, we had a great chat that night, so to get involved with Harry's Foundation was really a pretty obvious choice.

"Sport was my life growing up and remains so today, and I'm proud to be getting involved with a local charity helping young people get into sport. I'm also really looking forward to the tournament at Portstewart next week."

Former Northern Ireland International Gregg, who grew up in Coleraine and went on to make 25 appearances for Northern Ireland and 247 appearances for Manchester United, described McIlroy's gesture as "a wonderful thing".

"When I met Rory at an international game I saw that he just goes out and does his thing and does it excellently," said Gregg, who was hailed a hero in the aftermath of the 1958 Munich air disaster in which 23 people - including players and staff of the United team and journalists - died.

"He's good at it and he carries on with things like a normal person, which is very, very important to me.

"He started off at the grass roots as a youngster, he didn't start off in the lap of luxury.

"When I heard that he was going to help the Harry Gregg Foundation I was humbled, really and truly.

"This money will enable us to carry on our work.

"Around 2,000 children meet at Ulster University every Saturday to play football, hoping to follow their dreams. It's about what it does for the young people.

"That's who Rory McIlroy's actions will help."

While football is undoubtedly Gregg's first love, he says he hopes to "look in" at next week's Irish Open to thank McIlroy in person for his generosity.

"I hope to meet him in person again - I'm so proud at what this young man has done for the foundation and how it will help the youngsters," he said. "He is a great ambassador for Northern Ireland and a credit to his country and his sport."

Chief executive of the Rory Foundation, Barry Funston, added: "I'm delighted the Harry Gregg Foundation are on board for this year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

"It's great to support local charities and particularly children and young people in need.

"Harry himself is an inspiration to those young people and I look forward to welcoming his foundation to Portstewart next week."

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