WATCH: Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong has plenty of stories to share about George Best, GAA and escaping the Troubles as he launches new book

Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong’s new autobiography reveals how football was not his first sport and how in awe he was of George Best, who coincidentally was the man who bought him his first alcoholic drink.

By Graeme Cousins
Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 11:02 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 11:30 am

The 67-year-old, who scored 12 times for his country, most famously the winning goal against hosts Spain at the 1982 World Cup, was at Windsor Park yesterday to launch ‘My Story, My Journey’.

He said: “You have to tell the truth, you have to tell the whole story, so I did. I hope that makes it a better read for people.

“There’s lots of fun in the book, but it’s not all happy memories. It was tough growing up during the Troubles.”

Gerry Armstrong's new book is out now

Growing up off the Falls Road in Belfast, Gerry said he was grateful to escape the scenes he’d witnessed during the Troubles when he transferred from Bangor to Spurs in 1975.

He went on to play for Watford and having scored that famous goal in Valencia he was to move to the country he’d vanquished to play for Real Mallorca.

His knowledge of Spanish football landed him a job with Sky Sports, with his old pal George Best recommending him for the job.

“Playing football all those years and going into another career commentating and analysing football I think I’ve been very fortunate,” said Gerry.

Gerry and his wife Deborah in Windsor Park

As well as getting him a job with Sky Sports, Gerry also told how George put him off vodka for life.

“I was shandy drinker when I was 20/21 and I started playing professional football.

“For my first Northern Ireland call up, we were staying at the Noke Hotel in St Albans. I came in and I was meeting George Best for the first time as a team mate. Alan Hunter was there too, and Pat Jennings – probably the three most renowned international footballers for Northern Ireland at that time.

“George gave me a five pound note and sent me to the bar. Pat was having a vodka and tonic, Alan was as well and so was George.

Gerry with former DUP leader Peter Robinson at the book launch

“I said, ‘that’s three vodka and tonics’. He said, ‘no, it’s four – one for you as well’.

“I said, ‘but I don’t drink vodka, I don’t drink’. He said, ‘you do now, son’.

“I did drink it but I’ve never drank vodka after that. I hate it.”

Gerry told of his sporting beginnings: “I played Gaelic football from I was about six or seven years of age, and hurling.

“I won an All-Ireland hurling medal in 1971 when I was 17 for Antrim. The following week I was back as captain of the Antrim schools football team and we got beat by Mayo by a point. I have to say, I was probably a better Gaelic football player than I was a soccer player.”

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