The defrocked Irish priest who infamously ruined a marathon runner's chances of winning an Olympic gold medal, will head to Brazil next week in a bid to apologize to him in person and finally atone for his most notorious act of lunacy.
“Dancing priest” Neil Horan pounced on Brazilian athlete Vanderlei de Lima at the Athens Olympics in 2004 in a deranged protest that almost certainly cost the talented athlete victory in the grueling race.
Although a shaken de Lima rejoined the race and finished with a bronze medal, he has never forgiven the former Co. Kerry cleric for his shameful stunt which made worldwide headlines.
Horan, 67, said he's been plagued by guilt ever since, and has attempted to make amends by writing to de Lima numerous times and issuing several apologies during interviews on Brazilian national TV.
But the London-based former churchman, who has a history of disrupting major sporting events, admits he is likely to encounter a "hostile reception" when he touches down in de Lima's home country for the first time on Thursday in a bid to track the retired athlete down.
Horan will be based mainly in Sao Paolo during his two-week visit to the vast South American country, but plans to make a 600 km trek to Maringa, the city where de Lima lives and runs a sports shop.
"I've always wanted to apologize to Vanderlei and I've tried to contact him lots of times, but haven't heard back. What I did was very wrong and it's played on my mind ever since,” Horan said.
"I've suffered a tremendous number of insults over the last 10 years or so over what I did. Unfortunately I can't turn back the clock. All I can do at this stage is try to apologize.
"Over the years hundreds of Brazilian nationals have approached me in London and said the only way to apologize in their country is to do it face-to-face, that that would be an acceptable act of redemption. I've even been learning some Portuguese phrases so I can communicate with him when I meet him."
Horan -- a previous surprise contestant on Britain's Got Talent -- also revealed he plans to don his signature leprechaun costume and performing his distinctive jigs during his upcoming trip.
The former priest, who almost got himself killed in 2003 when he invaded the track during the British Grand Prix, previously attempted to atone for pouncing on de Lima by entering last year's London Marathon. However, he was barred from taking part.