'I decided to black out the three stripes with permanent marker'

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Steven McDonnell battles against Michael McCarthy of Kerry during the 2002 All-Ireland SFC final. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Steven McDonnell battles against Michael McCarthy of Kerry during the 2002 All-Ireland SFC final. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The boots are in the Croke Park museum at the minute. I had donated them to my club Killeavy a month or two after the final and the museum asked if they could be put on display there a few years ago. The agreement is they’ll be there for a certain number of years and then return to Killeavy. 

If you look closely, you’ll see the right one is busted. I actually did that in training the week before the All-Ireland final. I didn’t want to change because I had been wearing them throughout the whole campaign. I know some boys wouldn’t think twice about switching for a new pair and I wouldn’t be all that superstitious but the season had been going well and I wasn’t going to upset my preparations. Besides, it wasn’t busted badly but the top of the right is damaged — I kicked the first point of the game with that and the last one with the left. 

I had been wearing Adidas from late 2000. I happened to be playing a Railway Cup game and a guy from Armagh supplied us with boots for it. Before that, I had been in Puma Kings in Gaelic football and soccer. 

I was and still am a big Liverpool supporter and Adidas would have had a strong relationship with them in the 1980s and 1990s but it was Puma for me growing up. 

Around 2004, I was signed up to an endorsement deal with Adidas, which ran for a good few seasons. But in 2010, I hadn’t heard from them around about the time they would usually make contact. 

Boot Room: Steven McDonnell - 'I decided to black out the three stripes with permanent marker'
Steven McDonnell in action against Down’s Daniel McCartan in the 2010 Allianz NFL Division 2 final. Photo: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

So for the Division 2 final against Down, I decided to black out the three stripes with permanent marker. 

There was radio silence while I knew others were continuing to be looked after. It was a case of ‘move aside, there are other people coming through here’. I said to myself they weren’t going to get free promotion from me on live TV.

It annoyed me because I was playing good football. I was 30 at the time and still able to do the business so when I kicked six points it was one in the eye for them. Somebody from Adidas rang me a couple of days later asking why I had blacked them out. I explained my reasoning and a couple of days later some gear arrived at my house. That wasn’t my intention. If Adidas felt other players deserved to be looked after then fair enough but they weren’t going to get the exposure from me. I also felt some of those signed up were done so not on the basis of ability but because of the county they were from.

Source: Sports