BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
EAST FIFE ace Nicki Paterson has hailed his younger brother as an “inspiration” after watching Jonathan defy disability to earn a place in the inaugural North Lanarkshire Sporting Hall of Fame.
Jonathan Paterson, who was born with cerebral palsy that paralysed the right side of his body, stunned doctors who said he would never walk or talk by becoming a triple Paralympian with Team GB’s football side, captaining them in Beijing Games of 2008.
Paterson has also been a trailblazer of Scotland’s cerebral palsy team, which was established in 1995, acting as skipper and winning more than 80 caps.
He was honoured at a ceremony in his home-town of Motherwell on Monday evening, being inducted alongside the likes of Wishaw Wizard John Higgins, world champion boxer Ricky Burns and the late Sir Matt Busby.
And Nicki insists he continues to be humbled by Jonathan’s achievements.
Paterson said: “It was an incredible moment for him and well deserved, because I don’t think his achievements have been highlighted enough over the years.
“This a kid that wasn’t even supposed to be here today.
“To go from that, to the Paralympics and captaining his country. He was never going to let his disability define him and he has done himself proud.
“Looking at Jonathan, it always spurs me on. Knowing that a kid who had such a tough ride in life can reach the level he has – what is my excuse to not give my best all the time? Any time something feels too hard or a step too far, I just think about how far he has come.
“He is an inspiration to me and we bounce off each other.”
The brotherly support is mutual, with Jonathan a regular at Bayview to follow Nicki’s fortunes – a task made all the more enjoyable by East Fife’s run of just one defeat in 13 League One outings.
Having spent the majority of his playing career in North America, Paterson would love to give his dad and brother the opportunity to watch him celebrate a promotion.
The former Charleston Battery, Ottawa Fury and Indy Eleven midfielder continued: “The chance for my dad, Stephen, and my brother to be able to see me play more was a part of my decision to come back to Scotland, so they’ve been able to come to a bunch of games.
“Hopefully they have something to celebrate come May.
“We have a good side that is on a decent run and our eyes are firmly on the prize. Although promotion wasn’t foremost in my mind when I joined, now I feel like we’d almost let people down if we didn’t.”
In-form Alloa visit Methil today for a mouth-watering clash between second and third in League One, and Paterson reckons the next fortnight will be huge as the seek to cement their place in the top four.
Paterson continued: “We face Alloa, Brechin and Queen’s Park in the next two weeks so I think that will be massive and we’ll have a better idea where we are.”