Redman’s dream night
SMALL talk with a Northern Ireland legend, an autograph from an England international and 90 minutes of football against your boyhood club – it was all just part of a night’s work for Ross Redman on Tuesday.
The Portadown-born left-back lined out against Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia, Nani, Phil Jones and Park Ji-Sung this week in front of a capacity crowd at Windsor Park as part of Harry Gregg’s testimonial night.
For Redman, a Manchester United fan, it marked a memorable end to a season packed with positives.
Gregg’s special night featured leading United players taking on an Irish League XI selected by Linfield’s David Jeffrey, with Martin O’Neill as joint manager.
Redman’s development into one of the most consistent players in Irish League football secured the young full-back a spot on the pitch for the magical evening.
“I can only describe it as a crazy night to be honest, especially for a Manchester United supporter,” said Redman. “It was quite surreal at times and we could only laugh during the pre-match talk when David Jeffrey designated players for marking jobs.
“I was assigned to Dimitar Berbatov and up close you can really see how much of a class act he is in terms of touch and vision.
“Most of the time I had to mark Valencia, who would be one of my favourite United players and a guy I consider a world-class winger.
“I also had to worry about Jones coming up the line and over the course of the match they had Nani and Park Ji-Sung down my side.
“We started to tire a bit at the end but held our own overall and probably could have scored a few more goals.
“The whole experience was crazy, from Harry Gregg telling us before the match not to hold back to then sitting in the dressing room with Martin O’Neill.
“Out on the pitch the United players were chatting away and Nani asked how my team had finished in the league.
“After the game I managed to get Wayne Rooney’s autograph on my shirt so that is something to keep safe.”
It highlights Redman’s commitment to self-improvement that he views the evening as more than simply a chance to exchange words with some of his favourite players.
“Once out on the pitch then the instinct kicks in to treat it like another football match,” he said. “It was a real experience to see players of that standard up close and watch how they move you around the pitch.
“Physically they were massive and you cannot turn off for a second but it was a brilliant learning experience.
“It was a great way to round off my season and certainly a real career highlight.”
SPECIAL items listed for auction during Portadown’s end-of-season dinner include a football signed by George Best, league winner’s medal from the club’s first title triumph in 1990 and match-worn shirts donated by Alfie Stewart and Vinny Arkins.
Visit the club Twitter page (@portadownfc) to view photographs.
Tickets for the function in The Seagoe Hotel on Friday, May 25 will cost £30 from Bill Emerson or any PSS member.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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