The Ultimate Football Legend

“Legend” is a huge word and when we talk about football legends we all have our favourites depending on what we look for in a player, the era when we grew up, the part of the world we come from and our favourite teams.

Could it be Pele, the sublime Brazilian magician with the huge smile who captured the worlds attention at the beginning of the football watching TV generation or is it  the more recent Messi or free scoring Ronaldo (ok, he’s brilliant but what a poser!)?

As a huge Liverpool FC fan I have to think about putting Kenny Daglish on my list as well as Robbie Fowler who in his prime must get a mention. How could I ignore Steven Gerrard who played a huge role in any success the team enjoyed in the more recent past and I also loved the no messing, elegant centre half Sami Hyppia.

When pushed for an absolute winner someone else, someone very special, but quite unknown rushes to the top of my list. 

He’s a man who played to a very high level in Cork before emigrating to the United States in 1958, captaining teams that enjoyed national success. He played as a centre half in those teams and according to many people I have met down through the years he was highly respected.

Football, or soccer wasn’t popular in the U.S. but he did play a little over there and he continued to play in local leagues when he returned to Cork in 1964.

Like all proud fathers he played endless hours of football with his own son and then his grandchildren, passing on his passion, his encouragement and his skills to other generations. These different generations were brought to see Cork Hibs, Cork Celtic and later Cork City FC matches on a regular basis.

His love of football and fantastic, encouraging manner with young people had the neighbouring children knocking on his front door wondering was he coming out to play football with them on a regular basis!

I had the honour of walking with him recently in Ballincollig Park in Cork. Suddenly I found myself chatting to myself as he was no longer walking alongside me.

I looked back to see that he had stopped and was kicking a football back and forth to a young girl who was at the park with her mother. He was showing her how to kick the ball properly and had her repeating the action, over and over.

My number 1, football legend is Michael Canty (Mick to his teammates), my dad.

Thank you Pops, you are the very best

Greg Canty 

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