A statue of former Watford and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings has been unveiled in his home city of Newry.

Jennings, 78, attended the unveiling on Wednesday (November 8) despite falling ill at a match between Tottenham and Chelsea on Monday evening.

He was later released from hospital and given the green-light to travel back to Newry for the statue ceremony.

The event was attended by former Northern Ireland players Billy Hamilton and Gerry Armstrong, as well as ex-Tottenham star Ledley King.

Speaking at the unveiling, Jennings - who played for Watford from 1963 until 1964 - said he “couldn’t believe” he was having a statue dedicated to him.

“I’d have seen people who are getting statues unveiled of them and never thought it would ever happen to me,” he said.

Watford Observer: The unveiling of the Pat Jennings statue in Newry, Northern Ireland.The unveiling of the Pat Jennings statue in Newry, Northern Ireland. (Image: PA)

“Having said that, I’ve had an unbelievable career in football from leaving here as a 17-year-old to join Watford I never dreamt that I’d be back 60 years later, over 60 years, unveiling a statue.”

He added: “This is basically my home city, where I wouldn’t want it anywhere else.”

Jennings made 119 international appearances for Northern Ireland, making his international debut against Wales along with George Best in April 1964. He played in two World Cups in 1982 and 1986.

During his 23-year career, he played for Newry Town, Watford and won the FA Cup with both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

Watford Observer: Former Arsenal and Ireland player Liam Brady attended the ceremony.Former Arsenal and Ireland player Liam Brady attended the ceremony. (Image: PA)

In 1973, Jennings was named the Football Writers’ Association’s footballer of the year and, despite being a goalkeeper, managed to score from play in the 1967 FA Charity shield against Manchester United.

Students from Jennings’s former school, St Joseph’s Boys’ High School in Newry, formed a guard of honour for the footballer as he arrived.

Former Arsenal player Liam Brady told the crowds gathered to see Jennings that he was a “very special person”.

Watford Observer: Former Watford and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings.Former Watford and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings. (Image: PA)



“He’s been a great friend down through the years, he is probably the best goalkeeper in the world at one time, without any doubt,” he said.

King also spoke at the unveiling and said that since his retirement 12 years ago, he had had the opportunity to get to know Jennings personally.

Jennings’s wife Eleanor and his children also attended the unveiling, where a song written for the footballer was performed by Tommy Sands.