Raf­faele Cre­taro’s tes­ti­mo­nial game.

The Sligo Champion - - SPORT - BY JES­SICA FARRY

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

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