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'You took a country boy from Ballinora and showed him the world' - Cork City legend Bennett retires

The 39-year-old defender won two Premier Division titles and two FAI Cup with his hometown club.

Bennett lifting the league trophy in 2017.
Bennett lifting the league trophy in 2017.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

CORK CITY GREAT Alan Bennett has today announced his retirement from professional football. 

The centre-half began at his hometown club and was part of the team that won the Premier Division title in 2005. That earned him a move to Reading but much of his time with the Royals was spent out on loan. 

He joined Brentford in 2009 and would go on to play for Wycombe Wanderers, Cheltenham Town and AFC Wimbledon before returning to Cork in 2015. 

During his second spell, ‘Benno’ captained the club under John Caulfield and won the FAI Cup in 2016 as well as a famous double the following year.

In a lengthy message, the 39-year-old thanked all those who helped him earn legendary status with the Leesiders. 

“A final goodbye letter to professional football,” his statement begins. 

“Firstly, thank you football, you took a country boy from Ballinora and showed him the world. Let him see and experience things that now when he looks back on, he doesn’t believe happened to him.

“To my family, I hope I made you proud. It was without doubt my sole focus. We had great days out. As a paradox, I was selfish as a brother and a son. 

“To my wife, thank you. The conversations I wasn’t fully in, the walks I couldn’t go on, the endless foam rolling and ice packs in the freezer. The cancelled events due to a moody manager, the last-minute change of plans. The living to the fixture list and constant uncertainty. It also gave us incredible memories and opportunities, many more of these to come.” 

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stephen-geoghegan-and-alan-bennett-2422002-digital Alan Bennett tackling Stephen Geoghegan of Shelbourne in 2002. Source: INPHO

“To all my fellow players I defended the same in training and in matches. It was never personal, if you had the ball I wanted it. I wanted to keep a clean sheet. If the ball was to be won, I wanted it. Intercepting, reading, judging, tackling, organising, encouraging and winning. I’ll miss competing, laughing and living with you the most. 

“Thank you, staff members, for your time. For one more look at that, one more bit of kit, one more rep, one more trigger point of a muscle, one more ticket, one more pass. To the fans and clubs I represented at Brentford, Wycombe, Cheltenham and Wimbledon. Thank you, I look forward to visiting. Any victories I was happier for you, any losses I carried personally. 

When I signed for Cork City youths in 2000, I told Jerry Harris I wasn’t good enough. That fear drove me my whole career. I grew up and got old as an athlete at Cork City. In 2002, Noelle Feeney got me a cake for my 21st after we lost a cup semi-final. In 2015, fans led by John Kennedy sang me happy birthday after a cup semi-final win. 

“I was proud of the work I did when no one was watching. I was fully present in every training session. Losing hurt as much from the start to the end of my career.

“To football, thank you again. My greatest friend, but also my greatest foe. What an incredible vehicle you are for passions, love, friendship, fitness, health and joy. You broke my heart, created self-doubt, paranoia, fear and mistrust. You also brought me sheer euphoria, freedom and relief. 

“This is what true love does to you. 

“Thanks, Benno.” 

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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