Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers bites his tongue on Luis Suarez
Brendan Rodgers, Tony McCoy, and Tommy Bowe receive University of Ulster honours
Published 01/07/2014 | 07:04
It has been the most talked about moment of the World Cup so far. But yesterday Brendan Rodgers opted to bite his tongue on the Luis Suarez saga.
The Liverpool manager was back in Northern Ireland to receive an honourary doctorate from the University of Ulster.
Rodgers and champion jockey Tony McCoy were both awarded degrees for their outstanding contribution to sport.
However, the Anfield boss, who is from Carnlough, was not about to allow the Suarez controversy to overshadow his big day in Coleraine.
Rodgers has yet to comment on the Suarez biting incident, which saw the Liverpool striker banned for four months after sinking his teeth into Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's World Cup match against Italy last Tuesday.
And yesterday journalists were asked not to bring up the matter during a pre-ceremony press conference.
It is understood that, far from trying to duck the controversy, Rodgers did not want it to dominate yesterday's event or overshadow the university's gesture in awarding him a degree.
Asked if he was enjoying the World Cup, Rodgers smiled and said he had been impressed by the quality of football on show in Brazil.
He also spoke of his pride at receiving the honorary degree.
"I'm hugely privileged and honoured to be awarded this," he said.
Actor James Nesbitt presents jockey Tony McCoy with his award
"I come from a little place, Carnlough, from a council estate, and to be stood here today receiving this award, it's a very, very humbling experience."
Rodgers was among 13 "inspirational" people receiving honours from the university.
The 41-year-old took over as Liverpool manager in June 2012 and guided the club to the brink of their first league title in 24 years last season, only to narrowly lose out to Manchester City.
But while the Premiership title isn't residing in the Anfield trophy cabinet, Rodgers now has another special award to cap a memorable 12 months.
"I love my work, I love my job, but this is a real honour to be here in this way," he continued.
"People like Sir Alex Ferguson and James Nesbitt have received awards, so too have all the graduates here today.
"The work they have had to put in over the last few years to gain their degrees is incredible, so it is a massive achievement for them."
However, Rodgers was sad that his parents, who passed away in 2010 and 2011, were not there to share his pride.
"It's obviously unfortunate that both my parents passed away in the last few years," he added.
"It would have been a really proud day for them, but I've brought my three brothers here today and they will represent the family."
Also honoured yesterday was jump jockey Tony McCoy.
The 40-year-old from Moneyglass, Co Antrim, is widely regarded as the best National Hunt jockey of all time.
Last November, McCoy celebrated the unprecedented milestone of his 4,000th career victory.
"Receiving this recognition in my home county is a genuine pleasure and privilege," he said.
"I am proud to accept this honour and be part of what is a special day for all graduates and their families."
Other honorary graduates include Lions winger Tommy Bowe, Ulster actress Roma Downey and BBC journalist Fergal Keane.
University of Ulster Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett said: "All of our honorary graduates have demonstrated a lifetime of passion and commitment to excellence, which can only be an inspiration to the latest generation of Ulster graduates."