Former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings has been awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in the New Year’s Honours List.
Jennings, who made 119 international appearances for Northern Ireland during a 23-year playing career, has been honoured for his services to football and charity.
“I am delighted and humbled to have been awarded this prestigious honour,” said Jennings. “I have had a fantastic career and I have always supported charities and good causes along the way, something I feel all sportspeople should do.”
Charities that have benefitted from Jennings’ support include Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and Variety Golf, which endeavours to improve the lives of young people, as well as the Willow Foundation where he teamed up with fellow shot stopper Bob Wilson to raise money for ‘special days’ for cancer sufferers.
He has also been a long-standing ambassador for McDonald’s through its work supporting grassroots football with the Irish Football Association.
Another charity close to Pat’s heart is Co-Operation Ireland, an all-island peace-building organisation.
He explained: “I worked closely with Derek Dougan during the early days of the charity in the mid-1980s. Derek was from the Protestant faith, and I represented the Catholic community, and we knew how important that was, particularly given the times we were living in.
“Religion was no barrier, and we went on to organise some fantastic initiatives to raise money, including bike rides and walks from Belfast to Dublin, vintage car rallies and sponsored swims.”
Jennings (77) celebrated 27 years of golfing at Royal County Down in support of the work of Co-Operation Ireland in October 2022.
The legendary goalkeeper, who played for Northern Ireland at two World Cup final tournaments and starred for both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal during his playing career, received an MBE in 1976.
In 1986 he received an OBE as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster. In 1999 he received the Knight of Saint Gregory (KSG), a Papal honorary knighthood.
Pat received both Football Writers’ Association (FWA) and Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Player of the Year Awards in 1972-73 and 1975-76 respectively, the only goalkeeper to have achieved this double.
Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson said: “Pat is a global icon and one of the most revered players to pull on the Northern Ireland jersey. This award underlines his impact both on and off the pitch where he continues to use his profile to promote good causes across the island of Ireland and in England.
“On behalf of everyone at the Irish FA I send my warmest congratulations to him.”
Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood added: “Pat is one of Northern Ireland’s greatest ever players and a huge ambassador for Northern Ireland and its football. His statesmanship and gentlemanly nature have earned him the respect of everyone.
“He richly deserves recognition in the honours list and I add my congratulations to those of every Northern Ireland supporter.”