Pittsburgh Steelers quarter-back Ben Roethlisberger led the July 4th celebrations in Dublin then welcomed any opportunity to return for an NFL game at Croke Park.
Roethlisberger was one of 2,300 people who enjoyed the annual US Independence Day celebrations at the US ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park.
He spoke to local sports media before the event when he said he would be ‘delighted’ to play an NFL game at the home of the GAA as a tribute to Steelers owner Dan Rooney, a former US ambassador to Ireland
Roethlisberger said: “I would like it for him. That’s how much he means to me and I think everyone on our team would say that.
“Even if guys said they would never want to play in London, 100 percent of the guys on our team would say they would play in Dublin for Mr Rooney. I’d do it for him
“People always ask me what makes Pittsburgh special, why the tradition, why the history, why the most Lombardis? To me it starts at the top, that’s him, Art his son and his family.
“When he was in Pittsburgh, we saw him every day. When guys come to our team, and they sit down, they always ask are you owners in here all the time, they don’t ever see their owner.
“For us to see our owner every day whether out at practice, just working out and them saying hi to you, sit down and have lunch with you.”
Rooney joined Roethlisberger at the annual garden party hosted by chargé d’affaires John Hennessey-Niland who told the Irish Times: “We have thousands of people here today, we wish we could have more.
“We welcome our sponsors, people who work in the Irish-American community, representatives of business, the arts, culture.
“Everyone that we have a relationship with, we want to invite them to have an opportunity to be part of our special day.”
The paper reports that guests were met by parachuters who descended onto an American-style football field with all the trimmings: football posts, giant television screens for live coverage and playbacks, and bleachers.
An Irish-American Flag football game followed between the Dublin 8s and the Phoenix Park Pirates comprised of embassy diplomats and Marines, local Gaelic football, rugby and soccer players.
The event is designed to celebrate the relationship and economic ties between the US and Ireland.
Hennessey-Niland added: “It’s a great way to celebrate freedom, it’s a great way to celebrate independence. It’s a great way to celebrate the relationship between two great countries.”
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