Chris Shields helped propel career of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny among others - claims Vinny Perth
VINNY PERTH claimed the biggest compliment he could give departing Dundalk skipper Chris Shields was that he 'made people better'.
Shields ended a trophy laden nine-and-a-half year spell with the Lilywhites with victory over Derry City on Friday night before joining up with Danske Bank Irish League champions Linfield.
Perth claimed the midfield general helped progress the career of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny among others and deserved his impressive send-off outside the stadium on Friday night.
"I don't like the word 'legend'," said Perth. "The only legend I know is Jim McLaughlin and I hope maybe Stephen Kenny becomes a legend as well, he's close to it.
"But Chris is on the border of that as well. He typifies everything that has happened here over the last eight years. If I said Chris Shields was signing for this club now, the Chris Shields of 2012, there would probably be uproar on social media, 'he's not good enough', 'what are we doing?'.
"And yet he typifies everything. His biggest attribute for me is that Chris Shields has made people better. That's the sign of great players. He improved himself. But I think the Irish international manager, his career went on because of having Chris Shields in his team.
"Daryl Horgan, Jamie McGrath, Andy Boyle got capped for Ireland because of having this great player in their team. I think he made his teammates better and also improved himself.
"We've lost a bit of a legend at this moment and it's up to others to step up to the plate and I think they will but I'm very sad that I've lost Chris. I said to him tonight, if I had arrived a week earlier you were going nowhere but I respect his decision. He had to make the decision for his young family and it's the right moment for him but I'm very disappointed."
Perth was delighted Shields signed off on a winning note as his team recorded a 2-1 victory over Derry City and his swansong was far from a low key one as a noisy crowd of Dundalk supporters gathered on the Carrickmacross Road to set off fireworks and show their appreciation to a player who won five league titles, three FAI Cup and three League Cups at the club.
"We didn't speak about 'this is for Chris' or any of that stuff before the game. But as players and a group we had a very emotional moment after the game and it was great to get a win. He deserved a fill ground. He didn't get it but I believe there was something organised outside the ground and he's very lucky.
"So many great players here left without that send-off because it happens normally at the end of the season. Even if you think about how Stephen (Kenny) left at the end of the season, it would've been nice for him to get a send off on the pitch. Chris is very lucky in that respect. He's a clever fecker, so he probably organised it that way to suit himself," smiled Perth.