Big Pat Honoured by UEFA
PAT Jennings, Northern Ireland’s most capped player was honoured by UEFA on Friday night.
Jennings, who won 119 caps for his country, was presented with a commemorative cap and medal by Irish FA President, Jim Shaw, at half-time during Northern Ireland’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Serbia.
And a packed Windsor Park was in full voice to welcome the man himself on to the pitch – with a continuous chorus of ‘There’s only one Pat Jennings,’ along with a round of applause.
The UEFA Executive Committee recently approved a proposal to make a special award to players from UEFA member associations who had made 100 or more appearances for their national team.
Other international legends who are being honoured include: England’s Peter Shilton and the late Bobby Moore; Scotland’s Kenny Dalglish, Germany’s Lothar Matthaus, Denmark’s Peter Schmeichel and Portugal’s Luis Figo.
Irish FA President, Jim Shaw said: “Pat is not only a Northern Ireland legend, but he is also one of football’s greats. He is a true gentleman and a great ambassador for Northern Ireland football and on behalf of the Irish FA I would like to offer my congratulations to Pat on this special occasion.”
Jennings made his full international debut for Northern Ireland, at the age of 18, against Wales in Swansea in April 1964.
In the 1982 World Cup Finals in Spain when Northern Ireland defeated the host nation 1-0 in Valencia, Jennings single handidly kept the Spaniards at bay with an outstanding display of goalkeeping. His performance at Wembley against England in 1985 is another that will live long in the memory when he once again produced astonishing reflex saves to earn Northern Ireland a goalless draw and the point they required to make it through to the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico.
The tournament in Mexico was to be Jennings’ swansong though and it was fitting that his final game would be against the wonderfully talented Brazilians on his 41st birthday. Billy Bingham’s side may have lost that match 3-0, but the score was largely irrelevant as one of Northern Ireland greatest ever players brought the curtain down on a long and distinguished playing career.
Northern Ireland has always had a reputation of producing first class goalkeepers, but very few people would dispute that Pat Jennings is probably the finest of them all.