Fagan's fairytale success story

By Brian Keogh

The son of a former Drogheda United footballer is the brains behind Oceanico's bid to make Vilamoura one of the world's leading golf resorts.

Drogheda born Gerry Fagan, 54, and his English partner Simon Burgess pulled off a major coup when they bought Vilamoura's five courses for €125 million this week.

The property and resort company has decided to move into golf in a big way and rival great American resorts such as Pinehurst with seven top courses.

And Fagan revealed that it was his Dad's encouragement that convinced him to retire from business in Ireland and make a new life in Portugal.

He said: "My dad, Dessie, was a timber yard manager - he's 91 and still going strong. He was a great footballer in his day, he was captain of Drogheda United for 20 years.

"He played with them in three FAI Junior Cup finals, but, unfortunately, didn't win any of them.

"My father worked until he was 72 and I got a lot of lessons from him in the sense that it was terribly important for me to see that I would have something at the end of my working life.

"He had worked very hard, out in the yard in wet and rough weather and all that, and I decided that it was vital for me to build a retirement plan.

"When I got an opportunity - with selling out my shareholding in the Campbell Bewley Group - and the chance to move on, I rembember telling my dad my plans and he said, 'You're bloody well right, son, move on". He taught me a lot about life."

Since he made the move, Oceanico has amassed a golf and property portfolio worth €2 BILLION in just eight years.

Fagan added: "We started off with our two courses and they were fine in terms of what we had on offer, but we felt that if we wanted to have real substance, then we needed to have five, maybe six courses.

"We did look at two other courses in the region and did so with the possibility of building a third, but then we said, 'Hold on, why don't we go for the real jewel in the crown?"

The rest is history with Oceanico this week making Portuguese tourism legend Andre Jordan an offer he couldn't refuse for Vilamoura's five courses.

Ryder Cup legends Christy O'Connor Jnr and Nick Faldo are currently building two more classic tracks nearby, set to open in the summer of 2008.