Sligo Rovers chairman Martin Heraghty hailed Raffaele Cretaro as one of the most important figures in the history of the club following the announcement that his time at a player was concluding this morning.
Cretaro wrote a note to Bit O’ Red fans as he remembered all the important figures in his long and trophy-laden spell with his hometown club. You can read that here.
The Bit O’ Red chairman said Cretaro was an icon and an irreplaceable figure.
He said: “Over 17 seasons we have treasured each night Raff has taken to the pitch and represented our club with distinction and class.
“Whenever someone mentions Sligo Rovers, it is often quickly followed by the name Raff Cretaro. He is the personification of our football club.
“Many things come to mind. The early years in the First Division as he provided the light that there would be better future for us all of us one day. Raff’s leap into the air to win a header defied logic and lit up The Showgrounds and wowed our supporters. We wanted a better stage for it.
“That came and each time Raff would step up a level when the club did. We yearned for trophies and they arrived with him at the forefront. He turned into the most feared striker in the league for a period and it was all the more remarkable given we had to use him in every position in the team!
“Those goals stick out, the winning penalty at the Aviva Stadium and that incredible piece of magic in 2012 against Pat’s. The Showgrounds had never seen a moment like it.
“But what I will always be grateful to Raff Cretaro for is being the person we could turn to for hope. In tougher times, you knew he would be going out there and showcasing that insurmountable fight that is within him and our football club. He defined all of that.
“Raff played in every single outfield position for Sligo Rovers. He knew where his heart lay. How the story unfolded in 2011 and 2012 in particular was fate, and he made it so.
“On behalf of the club I’m so grateful for his sacrifices, and to his family as well as they kicked every ball with him.
“There are players in our Under-15s, Under-17s, Under-19s and senior team that put on our shirt now trying to be in any way like Raffaele Cretaro.
“The wishes of our supporters went unfulfilled for decades, but became possible thanks to people like Raff, and when that period was over, he was there to help us build all over again.
“Today it is my honour to salute one of the greatest individuals ever to be associated with the Sligo Rovers jersey. Raff, we simply say we loved every moment and we mean every word of this tribute, and feel it twice as much.”
Liam Buckley said: “For so long I watched on as Raff brought his Sligo Rovers career to new heights. I watched on as he scored those goals against me in The Showgrounds as St Pat’s manager and you could only admire a player so loyal and that cared so much for his club.
“It isn’t just about what he brings as a player. He is revered in Sligo and rightfully so. I know the club consider themselves so fortunate to have had his services for 17 seasons. He is a remarkable person because it is strength of character which has led to such a long and successful career here.
“In the modern game that achievement for an outfield player is simply unheard of now. He has defied logic in contributing so much to Sligo Rovers over that long period of time.
“In decades to come the name Raffaele Cretaro will brings smiles to the faces of the people of Sligo and you can’t achieve much more than that in football when you combine it with the honours he has won and the spirit in which he played the game.
“We wish him a wonderful future and I know he will forever be behind this club.”