Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2015: Search is on for Northern Ireland's next sports legend

By Frank Brownlow

When David Healy was inducted into the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards Hall of Fame last year it was a fitting tribute to a football icon that the Ulster public have long since taken to their hearts.

The winners of the 2015 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards - supported by overall sponsor Linwoods - will be announced at a glittering bash at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast, on January 25 with the Hall of Fame accolade one of the highlights of the evening.

The Hall of Fame Award - sponsored by the Outlet - recognises men and women who can truly be described as legends of Ulster sport.

And when Healy - recently appointed Linfield manager - scored the winning goal for Northern Ireland against England at Windsor Park in a World Cup qualifier in 2005, he certainly became part of that elite band.

Healy joined football idols George Best, Pat Jennings, Harry Gregg and Gerry Armstrong in the Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame as well as many greats from other sports such as Jack Kyle, Dame Mary Peters, Barry McGuigan and Mickey Harte.

Healy collected his award from Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill - who has since guided his team to next summer's Euro 2016 finals in France - and Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill.

They were full of praise for Healy, who started his career at Manchester United before going on to play for the likes of Preston, Leeds United, Fulham, Sunderland and Rangers.

But it was with Northern Ireland that he truly hit the heights.

Winning his first cap back in 2000, Healy scored twice and went on to make 95 appearances, scoring 36 goals. Before Healy's exploits, the record had been 13!

There have been many highlights, including a stunning hat-trick in a European Championship qualifier against an outstanding Spain side who would go on to dominate world football.

In that campaign Healy was the most dangerous striker in Europe, netting a record 13 goals in the group stages.

"To follow in the footsteps of Northern Ireland sporting heroes like George Best, Pat Jennings, Jack Kyle, Dame Mary Peters, Barry McGuigan and Mickey Harte, I feel very honoured and proud," Healy said.

Belfast Telegraph Sports Editor Steven Beacom was delighted to see Healy inducted into the Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame last year, following on from legendary Tyrone GAA manager Harte and World Cup hero Armstrong, who will forever be remembered for the goal that beat hosts Spain back in 1982.

"David Healy has been a class act for Northern Ireland both on and off the pitch and his goalscoring exploits have brought joy to so many people. He fully deserves his place as one of Ulster's sporting greats," said Steven.

"The Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame Award is a fantastic accolade and is a who's who of the giants of Ulster sport.

"I know there will be intense interest in just who our next inductee will be."

To nominate for the Hall of Fame and vote in the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards simply visit

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