Former Linfield manager David Jeffrey returned to his roots as a centre back on Sunday, as the “footballing family” came together for a charity game for a Larne footballer who was injured earlier this year.
A number of high-profile Irish League players from today and yesteryear turned out at the Hammer in west Belfast in a bid to raise funds for Scott Irvine, 30, who was critically injured in an Irish Cup game in January.
Speaking after Sunday’s game, Mr Jeffrey, who admitted he “hadn’t kicked a ball in 20 years”, said: “I am now walking with a pronounced limp and I am rather embarrassed at that, but there you go.
“I lasted 25 minutes and then had to go off with a tightened hamstring but when I left we were winning 1-0 and ultimately we won the game on penalties. So Belfast Swifts beat Larne Select on penalties and a great day was had all round.”
Before the kick-off Mr Irvine, who said he started back at the gym just two weeks ago, said he was “a wee bit embarrassed with all the focus and attention”.
“I am getting there slowly but it is a matter of time before I get back to the level of fitness I was at,” he said.
I still have a few dizzy spells and that to deal with. But there are people out there with worse things than meScott Irvine
“I still have a few dizzy spells and that to deal with. But there are people out there with worse things than me so I have to stay as positive as I can be.”
The father-of-two and civil servant from Greenisland was injured on January 10, suffering ‘cranial fractures’ after crashing into a perimeter wall in the 28th minute of the Larne v Carrick Rangers tie at Inver Park.
He received lengthy medical attention before being taken to hospital and the match was abandoned. The injury happened when Irvine banged his head after a challenge with a Carrick player.
“That was a bad day and a bad few months, but as I say there were people in the neurology ward I was in at the Royal a lot worse off than me,” Mr Irvine said.
“I have been given the OK to drive. The doctors are still assessing and I am clear until anything comes back, but they are hoping it doesn’t come back.
“I have planned to be phased back into work in the next few weeks, and the sooner the better because I am used to going to work and going to football and being active.
“So going from that to sitting in the house all day was a big thing. Getting used to that was hard.”
Mr Irvine said after starting back at the gym he can feel himself “progressing every day”.
“I have lost my hearing in one ear and that is a permanent thing,” he added. “But hopefully everything else should go back to the way it was.”
The match was organised by Larne FC manager David McAlinden.