Belfast Telegraph

Jackie Fullerton is stunned by Carragher's 'vile act' but hopes Sky stick with pundit

By Graham Luney

BBC NI football commentator Jackie Fullerton says he hopes Jamie Carragher is given another chance by Sky following the unsavoury spitting incident.

The former Liverpool favourite was suspended by Sky for the rest of the football season after he was filmed spitting towards a father and his 14-year-old daughter from his car window.

Carragher has apologised for the incident which occurred during an altercation while he was driving away from Old Trafford following Saturday's match between Manchester United and Liverpool.

A review will take place prior to the beginning of next season to establish whether Carragher is fit to return.

Ballymena man Fullerton, who says he is "semi-retired" at the age of 74, was shocked by Carragher's behaviour but he hopes it doesn't mark the end of his time with Sky.

"I was amazed that Jamie Carragher would do something like that," admitted Fullerton, widely recognised as the voice of football in Northern Ireland.

"It's a vile act and it was very surprising to see him react to goading or banter in that way. It seems really out of character for him because as a Liverpool player he would have endured a lot of criticism and not reacted like that.

"As a broadcaster you become used to other people disagreeing with you and letting you know about it but I have never seen anyone spitting at someone else like in this situation.

"In sport, and indeed any walk of life, it's the lowest of the low. In our little province we enjoy a bit of banter with fans and a bit of humour can diffuse things but I've never seen an incident like that.

"I certainly do not in any way condone what Jamie has done but it would be a shame if one the best pundits in football should lose his job because of this. Sky have suspended him until the end of the season and that underlines how seriously they view the matter.

"I think it's a real shame he allowed himself to fall into that trap but I would like to see him return to Sky in the future."

Glentoran director of football Roy Coyle was the victim of a spitting incident involving legendary Portuguese striker Eusebio.

The Benfica hero, who scored nine goals at the 1966 World Cup Finals in England, passed away aged 71 in early 2014.

Although recognised as one of the greatest players of all time, he failed miserably to earn the respect of former Linfield and Glentoran manager Coyle in a World Cup qualifier in 1973.

"We were playing against Portugal in a World Cup qualifier in the early 1970s when I made a tackle against Eusebio and as the two of us went to ground, he spat on me," said Coyle who won 50 trophies in his managerial career.

"When I was Linfield manager we faced Benfica at the Stadium of Light in 1983 and he made a point of apologising to me.

"It was probably the worst moment for me on a pitch because you can take tackles when they are firm but fair, however, spitting is disgusting behaviour, totally unacceptable anywhere and I was disgusted. It's just despicable and shocking.

"What happens to Jamie Carragher is up to Sky but I'm shocked he reacted in that way as his time in football would have taught him that you cannot react in that manner. You get abuse and criticism from time to time but you cannot react in that way. As a footballer he would have been aware of the pitfalls and you cannot condone that behaviour.

"Sky have made the right decision in suspending him but he may well return to his job when the negative publicity fades. But it's a despicable thing to see in any walk of life and he should be punished. I've never spat on anyone and for a former professional footballer like Jamie Carragher to do that is incredible."

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