Saturday 22 July 2017

Simon Zebo on his dad missing out on Montreal Olympics after parachuting accident and hilarious white tuxedo story

Simon Zebo
Simon Zebo
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Simon Zebo is an eccentric character and this anecdote proves that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The story of how his parents Lynda and Arthur met and fell in love is just as interesting as Zebo's rise to one of the most exciting attackers in world rugby.

But for an unfortunate accident, Arthur should have competed in the 800m at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

He left the island of Martinique for France at 19 years of age to complete his military service and broke his leg during parachute training

"He doesn't like to talk about it. He is proud that he qualified," Zebo told Off The Ball on Newstalk.

"It's nightmare stuff that you break your leg a couple of months before the games and don't get to compete and then have to watch the Olympics.

"He just pulled his chord too late and his impact was harder than it should have been and... sayonara to the Olympics."

A consolation for Arthur is that his children inherited his sporting prowess.

"At least he passed on his genes in the right direction to myself and my sister (Jessika)," he said

"She was a great runner. She had to retire due to injury. She was ravaged with injuries but she still managed to represent Ireland on numerous occasions."

Arthur met Cork native Lynda in Paris and the pair instantly hit it off. The 27-year-old shared the hilarious details of how they met and how his mother introduced her new beau to her parents.

"He meets my mother DJ-ing in a Paris nightclub and my mother is in Paris with a friend for a couple of months.

"She caught the love bug, the Zebo charm charmed her and my dad was living in Ireland the following year and my sister came along shortly after.

"He tells a very funny story about meeting my grandparents for the first time.

"My mother brought him home and he was wearing a white tuxedo for the first time he has ever met them and she was showing him off.

"My granddad had probably never seen a black man before never mind a guy in a tux trying to take my mum out without a word of English.

"He managed to charm his way into the family.

"Impressive isn't it. A white tuxedo and an afro. Fair play to him."

On the pitch, Zebo is preparing for a Guineess PRO12 semi-final clash with Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday week and hopefully a shot at some silverware on May 27 at the Aviva.

He will also be waiting by the phone in case he is called-up as injury cover for the Lions Tour of New Zealand, as he was when Tommy Bowe was injured in Australia four years ago.

He admitted to being disappointed to miss out on Warren Gatland's squad.

"I was very hopeful. It's a dream to play for Lions. Every player wants to go but it wasn't meant to be.

"I have to take it for what it is, roll the sleeves up and go again.

"I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of guy. There's not much that can get me down. Even if I was disappointed, I'm not going to lie everybody that wasn't selected was disappointed

"We're in a very fortunate position to call rugby our profession and we can go out and enjoy every training session or game."

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