Sunday 11 December 2016

Vincent Hogan: Paul would gladly throw his arms around the world

Published 11/10/2010 | 05:00

Paul McGrath has never lost his endearing side and gave Muhammad Ali a special welcome when the boxing legend visited a charity dinner last year
Paul McGrath has never lost his endearing side and gave Muhammad Ali a special welcome when the boxing legend visited a charity dinner last year

One of the thousand or so things I have always liked about Paul McGrath is his instinct to hug. Most Irish men are tactile as gate-posts, but Paul has this lovely habit of opening his arms in greeting where others push out the equivalent of a hand reaching up from a grave. He would have been a God-send at Gallipoli when the bandaged hordes came over the hill.

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Of course, Paul will tell you that he's not good with people but, one-to-one, he radiates enough easy charm to make George Clooney look a social misfit.

Since writing his book, I am routinely asked how the "big man" is and, much as I'd love to create a picture of abstinence, pilates and home economics classes, my answer is generally equivocal. We may yearn for him to become a trousered Mary Poppins, but -- being honest -- it's not really on the cards.

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