Twenty-six times Isle of Man TT winner Joey Dunlop has been voted the greatest Northern Irish sportsman of all time. Dunlop beat off opposition from footballer George Best and golfer Rory McIlroy to lift the title.
The Belfast Telegraph, Northern Ireland’s biggest newspaper, conducted the vote, and the award was presented to the Dunlop family last night at a star-studded gala dinner in Belfast.
Dunlop, a five-time world champion as well as the most successful TT racer of all time, was known in his home country not only for his motorcycling skills but also his charity work. He was awarded an OBE in 1996 for his work in delivering food and supplies to orphanages in post-communism Romania.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, North West 200 race director Mervyn Whyte was quick to praise the down to earth nature that made Joey a hero to thousands across the globe.
"Joey was just an ordinary guy with no airs or graces. The motorbike scene never went to his head at all. He just got on with the job. He was as natural as they come and success meant very little to him. He was always very helpful and supportive and of course supported several charities. That was the type of guy he was.”
The award comes just days after nephew Michael wom the Enkalon Irish motorcyclist of the Year award, and was presented with the Joey Dunlop Trophy.