North Antrim Assemblyman Jim Allister pays tribute to Harry Gregg

Harry Gregg.

NORTH Antrim Assemblyman Jim Allister has paid tribute to former Northern Ireland and Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg who died at the weekend.

Speaking in the Assembly on Monday Jim Allister said: “Northern Ireland has been blessed with many sporting giants not just in football but in many disciplines, but towering among them, undoubtedly, is Harry Gregg.

“All that has been said about him today in tribute is well deserved for his sporting achievements alone, but, of course, it is not just his triumph on the football field that made him the memorable son of this land of whom we are all proud.

“It was also his triumph in the adversity of the Munich airfield, where he showed the selfless courage that most of us can only dream about.

“With no thought for his own safety, and thinking only of those who were in great peril, he conducted himself in a way that ensured that some people lived who otherwise would have died in the Munich disaster.

“Many of us — I suspect maybe all of us — in the Chamber have no recollection of the Munich disaster because it happened so long ago, yet it is embedded in the consciousness of us all.

“Why? Because of Harry Gregg. It was that selfless behaviour — that heroic behaviour — that made Harry Gregg one of whom we are all so proud, not just for his sporting prowess but for what he did on that occasion.

“Yet, through all that, as the House has heard, he was a man of immense modesty, self-effacing and looking nowhere for glory.

“I met him only once or twice, but it was a privilege to meet him and be in the presence of someone who so earned the respect of this country and whom we are all so glad was indeed a son of Northern Ireland.

“He was one of us; he lived amongst us; he came from us. He never forgot and was very proud of his roots.

“He was anxious to remind us all, quite properly, of where he came from. There were no airs and graces. He was straight up and down, straightforward, and exactly the sort of Ulsterman who personifies much of the greatness of this Province.

“I want to add to the expressions of sympathy and condolence to his family and many friends. He will be much missed, but not forgotten.”

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