UTV is launching a new four part series this Thursday which charts the lives and careers of four of Northern Ireland’s sporting legends.
The aptly named ‘Homemade Heroes’ sees these local stars talk about the highs and lows of their careers in sport, their motivations, and who supported and inspired them along the way.
They also share some amazing stories about their times in the spotlight, and the viewer will also get an insight to their lives today, with some continuing in their field, while others follow completely different paths.
The series kicks off with Northern Ireland football legend Gerry Armstrong, who famously scored for Northern Ireland in the 1982 World Cup, beating hosts Spain, and in the process bringing the people of Northern Ireland together in a way not thought possible.
The former championship GAA player fell into a footballing career by chance. And ten seconds on a Spanish football pitch more than 40 years ago changed his life forever.
He said, “We didn’t realise it at the time but we did something the politicians hadn’t, and brought the whole community together.”
And, “We never looked upon ourselves as superstars, we were just down to earth lads doing a job for our country."
He talks about his upbringing in west Belfast at the start of the Troubles, and how the cut and thrust of Gaelic Games was his first sporting love.
He talks about the ‘power and pace’ he had on a GAA pitch which helped him break into football, and also shares how he got signed for Spurs without properly realising what was happening!
This episode is peppered with some great UTV archive footage, some of which Gerry had never seen himself. This first episode is a real viewing treat, whether you’re a football fan or not.
Larne world champion boxer Dave ‘Boy’ McAuley, Everest mountaineer and iron woman Hannah Shields, and six-time world motorsport champion Jonathan Rea take part in the remaining episodes.
Dave has swapped boxing gloves for oven gloves as he chats from the coastal hotel he runs with his wife. We hear about his career milestones and he brings rarely seen title belts and memorabilia out of the bank vault especially for the programme.
Meanwhile Hannah shares the incredible challenges that she faced while climbing Mount Everest, and the reality of life at the limits. She continues to push herself with marathons and extreme running events.
And we get a great insight into how Jonathan Rea juggles family life with racing, his love of golf, and chats about the future as a possible football coach. His wife and two young sons help keep things normal for him.
Alison Fleming who produced and narrates the episodes said, “This series was an absolute pleasure to make. The stories were incredible and all four sportspeople are inspirational in their own way. One thing that binds them together though is their humility, and above all their pride in coming from Northern Ireland.”
‘HOMEMADE HEROES’ is a UTV production, produced and narrated by Alison Fleming, and is sponsored by EZ Living Interiors.
You can watch the first episode on UTV on Thursday 30th November at 8.30pm, and after transmission will be available on www.itv.com/utvprogrammes
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