Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Manchester United legend Harry Gregg continues to inspire

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg at his home on the outskirts of Coleraine, Co Londonderry
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg at his home on the outskirts of Coleraine, Co Londonderry

How would you like to be remembered? That great son of Coleraine, Harry Gregg, like one of his many protégés, George Best, has only ever wanted to be remembered for his football.

Not of his choosing, but understandably so, his name will forever be associated with his life-saving heroics at Munich in the 1958 Manchester United air disaster.

But there is much, much more to Harry Gregg's character and personality. A coaching visionary as well as a goalkeeping legend, he ought to have managed his country and/or a top club, even his beloved United. But the footballing establishment of his day weren't ready for a man who spoke his mind... and what a mind. Insightful, incisive and always worth listening to, is Harry.

That was brought home by sheer chance as I listened to another of his admirers, Bishop Tony Farquhar, no less, this week confirm 125 children into his church. Bishop Tony, another great football man, and devotee of Dundee United, chose as the subject of his address, Harry Gregg.

And having captivated them with the magic words 'Man United goalkeeper', the good Bishop proceeded to deliver a simple, uplifting and utterly relevant homily, based not on the story of Munich, of which most would no doubt be blissfully unaware, but on a piece of advice once given to him by Harry – never give up on your dreams. The proof was in the telling.

Never in his wildest would Harry have imagined that, at age 81, his philosophies would provide the inspiration for a new generation starting out on the path of life.

What a testament and legacy that is. And it couldn't belong to a better man.

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