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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 11:23 GMT
Payback time for footballers?
Niall Quinn wants to give something back to the cities of Sunderland and Dublin
Sunderland striler Niall Quinn is to give the 1m proceeds of his testimonial to charity.

Should more players follow Quinn's example?


In a career spanning nearly 20 years at the top, Niall Quinn has earned the fans' respect and affection at Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland.

It was whilst he was at Arsenal as a teenager that the Republic of Ireland striker first visited Great Ormond Street's children's hospital, and the experience left an indelible impression on him.

Quinn has decided that the money from his testimonial, between the Republic of Ireland and Sunderland, will be donated to hospitals in Britain and Ireland, and to African schools to buy books.

In a time when players are hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Niall Quinn's decision has earned him praise, but he says he is just "paying the debt for the priviledged life I've had".

Should today's top-flight stars take a leaf out of Niall Quinn's book?


Niall Quinn - a legend, national hero and all round nice bloke, this is exactly the type of thing he does.
Fionan Ginty, Ireland

You don't need to be a footballer to give a little!
Pat, Ireland

Well done Niall, a great gesture. Of course us over here always knew that for a tall guy your head was never in the clouds and your feet are always on the ground. Congratulations.
James, Dublin, Ireland

Well done Quinner - a nice touch! But let's lay off Giggsy! I know Giggsy has done a lot of work with The Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and he got no credit or headlines for that. Also, he did give 'an undisclosed sum' to charity.

Finally, how many of Giggsy's detractors give a couple of quid a week/month to charity? You don't need to be a footballer to give a little!
Pat, Ireland

Well done Niall, a wonderful gesture. Hope there's enough left to buy some more disco pants!
Darrell Freeland, England

Niall Quinn is one of a rare breed these days of very charitable, well-to-do footballers. He always has time to sign autographs and he can often be seen visiting children's hospitals.

This is an especially great gesture, coming from a player who will most probably have to pay for treatment to his back after retiring, and earns peanuts in comparison to the likes of Beckham, Giggs and Keane. I wish this great man all the best in the future. A legend on and off the field. P.S. Thanks for 14 years great service to the Republic of Ireland.
Peter O'Broin, Ireland (living in Oxford)

What a wonderful example Quinny is in these troubled footballing times
Andy M, UK

First of all, well done Quinn. I see that a lot of people are having a pop at Giggs and rightly so. I always thought testimonials were for players whose careers had been cut short due to injury or for the less well paid pros in the lower leagues.

But don't be surprised that Man Utd players keep all their cash, even their boss had a testimonial and pocketed well in excess of 1m tax-free a few years back. It is time the government stepped in and hammered this tax-free luxury unless it is a genuine testimonial for a player who has had to give up playing early in his career due to injury.
Nick, Wales

As a Sunderland fan, I've always seen Quinn as intelligent, articulate and a true gent. A rarity in the modern game. A pity I can't think of any other Premiership players (apart from Gazza perhaps) who would even think of showing this generosity. Well done Niall.
Mark, England

Well done Discopants! As a Sunderland fan I've had a lot of comments from non-football fans saying what a wonderful example Quinny is in these troubled footballing times - if only Ryan Giggs could turn back time.
Andy M, UK

Well done to Niall Quinn. But why have a go at Ryan Giggs? If people are stupid enough to pay money to watch a meaningless game to further line a rich player's pockets then that's up to them! Nobody forces them to go - if nobody turned up to watch then the player wouldn't get anything.
Bill, England

Niall is one of few that realises it is only money, and health is much better than wealth
Karen, England

A shining example to the greedy, reckless, irresponsible and morally bankrupt fools who make up a sadly high percentage of his peers in professional football. Well done Niall - Honorary knighthood coming up?
Paul Ross-Gardner, Wales

Though Big Niall has donated this money he is still adamant that he owes it to himself to exorcise some demons that followed him in his career. He is horrified that he partook in dressing room banter at the expense of others. Well Niall, if you feel you owe 1m for that then what must the other top pros owe, and could even the richest football stars pay their debts to exorcise their demons? Probably not.
Rory Fitzgerald, Ireland

His heart is as big as himself and we all loved him at Maine Road, Niall is one of few that realises it is only money, and health is much better than wealth.
Karen, England

He is setting a great example. It's human nature to want more than you have got, and to see a rich footballer look beyond that is refreshing. More should follow his example, but should not be forced into it by guilt, it should come naturally. Most footballers probably don't look much further than their next Lexus. I might be wrong, but I'd be surprised.
Conor Cusack, England

There is an old saying in the Irish language which means 'Your reputation far outlives your life'. In today's game the majority of players are decent but a few 'bad eggs' will always tarnish their good names.

It's a sorry day when we are surprised when someone does the right thing!
Tony H, England

In a month where football has taken its knocks this highlights the good sides of the players - as did Gianfranco Zola's dedication of that magical goal. Eventually the nice guys of football will triumph!
Fearghal, Eire

This does not surprise me. The man has always been a model professional. During his time at Man City he conducted himself both on and off the field with the sort of kindness and respect. The man is a man and not a spoiled brat; it's a sorry day when we are surprised when someone does the right thing!
Tony H, England

A great gesture. No matter how much someone earns, 1m pounds is a lot of money and takes a generous heart to give it away. God bless him.
Steve, England

As a life long Sunderland supporter I applaud Niall for his generosity, he is an example to us all. I work in Western Tanzania in development. The local children and adults worship Premier League football and idolize the players. It would be wonderful if the clubs, players and FA helped local football clubs with footballs, strips and coaching. For ideas, look at the Canadian organization Olympic Aid, who are working in my town. Well done Niall.
Geoff Calder, Tanzania

It is the least you can expect from the Big Tipp Man. Up the Premier!
Eamonn, Tipperary Ireland

In the testimonial, it would be fitting for Niall to play one half for Sunderland and the other half for Ireland.
Colin B, England

My congratulations to Niall for doing such an admirable and noble thing. I have been a great admirer of Niall since his time at Manchester City, and believe that he is one of football's greatest ambassadors ever. In Wales we had our 'Gentle Giant' in the form of John Charles, and Ireland can also boast its own in Niall Quinn. Let's hope this starts a trend amongst others.
Huw Tegid, Cymru - Wales

Having heard about Niall Quinn's gesture I, as a Newcastle supporter, find it heart-warming. When Sunderland play the Republic of Ireland in the testimonial, it would be fitting for Niall to play one half for Sunderland and the other half for Ireland.
Colin B, England

Well done Niall, it's great to hear and also great to have a man of such stature representing not just our national side but football in general. I hope Niall goes on to play in the World Cup after missing USA 94 with a knee injury. Class act.
Rob, Ireland

If the carpers had followed the news more closely, they might have known that Ryan Giggs donated money from his testimonial to charity. He is also a 'one-clubber', not a 'night-clubber', which actually fits one of the principles of the testimonial - loyalty.

Well done Ryan and thanks for lots of marvellous, entertaining football. Well done Niall Quinn, too. A great example to everyone. It's good to have some positive news about footballers these days.
Keith, France

I am in awe. Football should be humbled.
Chris, UK

Quinny is a true gentleman. Not only does he have the best 'Disco Pants' in football but he is undoubtedly one of the nicest blokes in the game. Good on ya Quinny.
Steven, Sunderland, England

Whatever Giggs gave, the fact that it was undisclosed means it almost definitely wasn't 100%. Niall's magnificent gesture was a stunning act of philanthropy in its own right, but I hope that he has raised the bar and thrown down the gauntlet to those players who will blow the lot on more suits and cars.

The question should not be the proportion given to charity. The whole lot should ALWAYS go to charity by default. Niall succeeds here. I am in awe. Football should be humbled.
Chris, UK

Unbelievable. He should have used the money to buy Van Nistlerooy and Kluivert for one month to play with Ireland in Japan... No, really, I think players will now follow suit but for the wrong reasons - otherwise it would have been done before? A true gent.
Vinny, Dublin, Ireland (live in Holland)

Well Done Niall. He sets an example for us all, not just Premiership players. Many messages on this board refer to 'rich' people donating to Charity. Be like Quinn, don't just leave it to others - we should all be donating.
Dominic, Orlando, USA

I think Niall's gesture says it all about the man himself.
Jim Marchbanks, Scotland

This is a fantastic gesture and perhaps could be followed by all the current crop of over-paid footballers. Lower league players should still be allowed a tax-free testimonial. However the overpaid Premier stars should either donate the whole amount to charity or be charged the full top rate of tax on all proceeds
Steve, Switzerland

Whilst endorisng all the plaudits for Quinn it is disturbing to hear Ryan Giggs' name mentioned a number of times. Can these people who criticise Giggs tell us what he spent his money on? I doubt it. Whose to say he didn't give some or all his testimonial money to charity and simply didn't publicise the fact.
Mick, UK

Aidan, Netherlands

I think Niall's gesture says it all about the man himself. Congratulations to you Niall and your family for representing both the sport and life in the most positive manner possible.

It's about time these people became a little more aware of the real world out there
AH, Scotland

I sincerely hope that you go on to football management and encourage youngsters to take up various sports and also represent themselves properly in a society where standards and the acceptability of bad behaviour and greed are commonplace.
Jim Marchbanks, Scotland

Well done to big Niall for this kind-hearted gesture. It makes a pleasant change to see the proceeds of a testimonial match going to something more worthwhile than a player's already bulging wallet!

And footballers are as capable as anyone to go out and work in another profession when they are 35 or go back to higher education. It's about time these people became a little more aware of the real world out there.
AH, Scotland

As a Sunderland fan who has met Niall before, this comes as no surprise. As your article states, he is recognised as being a model pro and true gentleman by supporters of Sunderland, Man City, Arsenal and Rep of Ireland alike as well as other people who have come into contact with him. Well done Niall!
Mark Hubbard, Whitley Bay, England

Credit to Niall Quinn but lets get off Giggs' back. I disagree with James, I think that Giggs deserves his testimonial, I object to the administrators and the agents bleeding football dry, not the players - they only have a small window to earn their money and it can close at any time through injury. Good luck to them all.
Tim, England

To be fair, Ryan Giggs donated "an undisclosed sum" from his testimonial proceeds to charity
David Jacobs, UK

In an age where the media seem only too pleased to point out the negative contribution that football makes to society, it's a pleasure to see the BBC highlighting Niall Quinn's donation. The man is a true gent. We would be wrong to believe that he is the only person within football in this country 'giving' however, as there are numerous instances of this everyday.

My local club Peterborough United are currently running auctions to raise money to improve a local school's sports facilities, despite the fact that they are losing 1000s every week. This kind of charity occurs all the time from football clubs - big and small. Unfortunately it is just not deemed newsworthy enough for public consumption. This says more about the media in this nation than the generosity of our football clubs and players I believe.
Ross Watts, UK

Just to be fair on one who has come in for stick here, I'd like to point out that Ryan Giggs donated "an undisclosed sum" from his testimonial proceeds to charity. Also, I think Giggs has always been a "model pro" - his only flaw is that he plays for Man U!

However, I still feel that testimonials for top-flight players are very much an anachronism these days. For lower league players, fine, but then how do you separate one from another in terms of rules?
David Jacobs, UK

I would hazard a guess that Niall wouldn't want all the fuss this has caused. As a Sunderland fan and particularly a fan of his, I would second guess that this is truly a genuine and well-considered gesture and that he's pleased to be in a position to do something like this.

Well done, your deeds are as tall as you.
Madan, India

That said, it is nice as a 'normal earning person' to see someone having gained the rewards he has, giving some of it back to some of the more needy in society. Fair play to a top footballer/human!
Damian, UK

Well Done Niall. You've been a great Gooner and servant for the boys in green. Don't leave the game.
Brendan, Canada

Being a Newcastle fan, this is the first time I have liked something which is related to Sunderland. Well done, your deeds are as tall as you. You have set a fantastic example for the other footballers to follow. This is one item of news which has boosted the image of footballers amid the recent troubles.
Madan, India

Niall's million will be worth many more millions to the charities if the media can be intelligent with their use of the story. Hopefully this will mean that the high earning bracket of footballers will follow this fantastically generous example. Good on ya Niall and God bless ya!
Dominic, Spain

I have been disgusted at testimonials being given to Premiership players who clearly don't need the money. While there are many players further down the leagues who deserve reward for long time service, Niall Quinn has produced a brilliant solution for Premiership players: grant them the honour of a testimonial, but all proceeds go to a charity of the player's choice. If only there were more noble people in football like Niall Quinn.
Colin, England

I was truly touched to hear this story.
Ryan, UK

Testimonials are supposed to provide loyal footballers with financial security after retirement from the game. While this is still applicable to the majority of Nationwide players, any Premiership player should be able to provide for himself on the salaries they earn.

Niall has done the right thing and hopefully set a precedent for others to follow. Times have changed, salaries have changed, now is the time for footballers to change.
Simon Edbury, UK

What a top man. I hope more players do the same. WELL DONE.
Sajid Sadiq, england

I was truly touched to hear this story. Niall always comes across well on TV and this has cemented that view in my mind. I only wish some of his colleagues would show some of his generosity.
Ryan, UK

I've never been a fan of testimonials and so I think giving the proceeds of one to charity is as a good a use for the cash as any other. The fact is that footballers, from whichever division, earn a lot of money for playing a game the rest of us play for nothing.

Let's hope more players do the same and give a little back.
Jon Cooper, UK

Their ability to work doesn't end with their ability to play football for a living. Players can, and do, go on to have normal careers after their playing days. As Niall says, he is "paying the debt for the priviledged life I've had" - something no footballer, professional sportsman, actor, etc, should forget.
Mark Harrison, UK

Hats off to Niall Quinn. But how many of us could afford to buy such good headlines? He's only in a position to be able to do it having been paid an obscene fortune for many years. Let's hope more players do the same and give a little back.
Jon Cooper, UK

Fantastic - well done! It makes a nice change to hear this kind of news from the players that our children idolise.
Tony, UK

I think it is scandalous that top players still earn the proceeds from testimonials - it is simply taking from the poor to give to the rich. It seems to me that the original purpose of the testimonial has been lost. It used to help footballers retire relatively comfortably, as footballers have such a short career. Nowadays, however, it is mere pocket money to a lot of players. Fair play to Quinn for setting a good example.
Tom Grainger, Oxford, England

Well done Niall. Charlton's Chris Powell did something similar a few weeks ago, turning up on Christmas Day at a sick boy's side. Great stuff and an example to all rich people. Those who don't contribute should be ashamed.
George, England

It does not come as a surprise that it is Niall Quinn who is setting the example
Mark, England

As a Sunderland lad I know how much of a nice guy Quinny is, but he's surpassed himself this time. I hope that many of the greedy footballers (Ryan Giggs perhaps?) in the Premiership will feel some shame upon hearing this news.
Robin Whitwham, UK

It does not come as a surprise that it is Niall Quinn who is setting the example. He has been a tremendous servant to all his clubs and football in general. It will be interesting to see whether Ryan Giggs will do the same.
Mark, England

With this gesture, old 'Discopants' has shown that he is a man of honour as well as taste.
Ricky Fernandez, France

When you think about all the money that footballers earn (especially within the last ten years), it is unfortunate to say the least that more top flight footballers have not donated at least some of their winnings to charity.

The greed of some footballers these days is sickening when they receive over 1 million for a testimonial on top of their already huge weekly wages - mentioning no names (Ryan Giggs). Well Done Niall!
James, England

The players do have a moral obligation to 'do the right thing'
Adrian Kitchen, Brazil

As a Sunderland fan, I'm very proud of Quinn's gesture - hopefully others will follow suit. I also hope the club finds a prominent role for him when he retires. He is a legend on Wearside.
Gary, UK

I think it's a marvellous gesture on Big Niall's part, and one which should become more commonplace. Young lads hold football stars in such high esteem that the players do have a moral obligation to 'do the right thing'.

While gifts of money are sure to be very warmly welcomed by charities, players could also dedicate some of their time to working in their local communities. Well done, Niall. Hopefully you've opened a door...
Adrian Kitchen, Brazil

What a fantastic gesture by a player who would only have earned the huge salaries players now earn, in the later years of his career. The likes of Bowyer, Woodgate and Morris should take note.
Chris, UK

It's a refreshing change to the usual scenario of players adding the takings of their testimonials to their already substantial bank balances. Well done Niall for such a generous act! Let's hope more players do the same in future.
Amanda, UK

I find it impossible for the likes of Ryan Giggs to justify keeping the proceeds.
Scotty Paul, UK

I feel that this is a magnificent gesture from a consummate professional. If only there were more like him.
Sean Stafford, England

Finally a footballer with a conscience! Certainly you can understand lower league players who have to keep the proceeds, but I find it impossible for the likes of Ryan Giggs who are earning enough anyway, without 1m+ testimonial revenues, to justify the same! Congratulations Niall - you have installed yourself as a model pro!
Scotty Paul, UK

This has been a very nice thing to do, I doubt we'll see Giggs giving some of the money he's got from his testimonial.
Omar, U.A.E.

I feel that more top stars should donate their testimonial money to charities. The whole idea of testimonials is so the fans can pay respect to the star who have served their club and in today's climate that is very rare indeed.

A true gent in a world of greed.
Andy Kelly, UK

However, with all the money associated with the game, I believe that the top stars don't need the 1m plus figures, and that either charities or lower league clubs should benefit.
Gary Ward, England

Quinny is a top man. He has earned a lot of money playing football so why does he need even more? He should be given a knighthood for being a decent person.
Gavin White, England

A true gent in a world of greed. I hope others in his position take note and those who have taken the cash feel some shame.
Andy Kelly, UK

Quinny should be applauded for his generosity. He is a credit to football and a shining light in a currently darkening profession.
Phil Young, England

Quinn is merely following Peter Beardsley's example for his testimonial v Celtic in the late nineties, when he too gave all the money to charity. Can he have a mention / some praise by any chance?!
Phil Greaves, England

A fantastic gesture, which I hope other Premiership players will follow
Martin, UK

What a real gent this fellow is. Isn't it about time the likes of Bowyer, Smith, Woodgate and co. took a leaf out of his book. Good luck in Japan 2002.
Malcolm, UK

This is a fantastic gesture, which I hope other Premiership players will follow. As a Man United fan I am used to hearing of the obscene salaries they earn.

To hear of someone who is not in the top flight of earnings (although does alright thank you) giving away this money will hopefully have the required effect on the really big earners, and those who are in the middle of transfer negiotiations.
Martin, UK

Finally....a week in football we can all be proud of. Big Niall with his selfless and genuine gesture has set an example to all other players. Most of whom are over-paid and under-motivated.

A lot of respect has to go to Zola for his heart-warming gesture this week as well. His goal of the season ensures that the charity he supports will receive fantastic press exposure and much-needed donations. Niall and Gianfranco, shining lights of selflessness.
Coolage, UK

Well done Niall, a great gesture from an intelligent footballer
Charlie, France

It is time footballers gave some of their excessive pay back. However, although Quinn's donation to charity is very touching, a system which helped the lower clubs (whose players lives still depend on testimonials) get some of this money would be much more beneficial and better for English football.
David, England

Well done Niall, a great gesture from an intelligent footballer. Giving all of the money to charity is fantastic, and good luck when he retires. The others should follow suit, but given that most footballers aren't at a club long enough to warrant a testimonial, very few footballers will follow.
Charlie, France

No one should be forced to follow his example. However, I hope that the public's response to this selfless gesture will encourage others to do similar things in the future.
Rhys Jaggar, England

Amid all of the talk of 'stars', this man must be the true star. If more of our celebrities acted in this way, our children would have a great set of role models on whom they could base their own lives - well done Niall!
Steve, UK

Sunderland striker Niall Quinn
"With all the good times I've had I though it was time to give a bit back"
See also:

20 Jan 02 |  Football
Quinn's striking gesture
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