AN IRISH businessman is drumming up support to finance a statue of legendary Sunderland player Charlie Hurley outside the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland-based Dubliner Martin O’Neill has lived in the city for the past 15 years and, during his time there, he has adopted the local football team, for whom Hurley is a club hero.
Hurley, who turns 80 this year, was born in Cork but his father moved to Dagenham in 1937 when he was just six months old, and he grew up to play 40 times for the Republic of Ireland.
“A few weeks ago we [Sunderland fans] were discussing about how nice it would be to have some sort of display to remember Charlie,” O’Neill, who will meet with fellow Sunderland supporters on Sunday to discuss raising funds, told The Irish Post.
“We were saying ‘why doesn’t someone do something about it?’ so I said, ‘well why don’t we just do something about it?’
“That’s how it started and its since struck a chord with Sunderland’s senior supporters. He is such an iconic figure at this club; the fans voted for him as their player of the 20th Century.
“When I came here about 15 years ago I never realised just how much of a hero he was to an entire generation.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of meetings with him when he was doing book signings and stuff and he has always been the perfect gentleman.”
Around £75,000 to £85,000 will be required to fund a statue of Hurley, who played for the Black Cats for 12 years between 1957 and 1969.