Raffaele Cretaro’s testimonial game.
Former players, managers, current players and fans all came together on Saturday to honour one of Sligo Rovers’ most loyal sons. Having spent 17 years of a 19 year career with the Bit O’Red, Cretaro was given a testimonial on Saturday which pitted the current Sligo Rovers XI (and friends) against a Raffaele Cretaro selection.
The game finished 8-7 in favour of the Raff Cretaro selection, and the Tubbercurry man was filled with emotion at the end.
“I think it’s only hitting me there at the very end. You see everyone standing and cheering and you realise it’s all for you. It was a bit overwhelming. I don’t think I really expected to get such a crowd, people might say that’s a bit modest.
He added: “For everyone to come in like they did and support me. All the lads coming back is just overwhelming. I can’t explain how I feel in terms of everybody working so hard behind the scenes and it all coming off at the end of the day.”
The 36-year-old says he will forever be thankful to Sligo Rovers for allowing him to fulfil his dreams.
But, he reiterated his intentions to keep playing on for as long as he can.
“I got the opportunity to play for my hometown club, win trophies with my hometown club and play for 17 seasons with my hometown club. It’s a dream. I’m living something I wanted to live as a kid. I’ll be forever grateful to Sligo Rovers for giving me this opportunity.
“I’ll keep going for as long as I can. I’ll keep her lit until the wheels come off. I feel ok and Ger is very good with me in terms of managing training so I don’t see why I should hang the boots up just yet.”
Rovers legend Joseph Ndo asked the crowd to shout ‘we love you Raff’ at the end of the game, and Cretaro said Ndo has been a big influence on his career. The Cameroonian even filmed a documentary about Cretaro last year, inviting numerous people to pay tribute to him. The video has been doing the rounds in recent weeks in the build-up to the testimonial, and to this day it still makes Cretaro well up.
“With Joe, I love the man. I have so much respect (for him). I see him as a mentor. If I need to work on something I’ll ring Joe and he’ll give me advice. I’ve watched the video four times and I’ve cried every time!”
Raffele Cretaro pictured with Sligo Rovers officials and Cathaoirleach Cllr. Martin Baker.
Mikey Drennan tries to score with Ciaran Kelly, Alan Keane and Gavin Peers attempting to stop him.
Jeff Henderson and David Cawley.
Anthony Elding in action against Patrick McClean.
Cllr. Rosaleen O’Grady making a presentation to Joanne and Matteo Cretaro