53 reasons why we love Ivan Cleary

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. Photo: NRL Images.
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To celebrate Ivan Cleary’s 53rd birthday today (March 1), the Weekender wants to show its appreciation for the three-time premiership-winning coach of Penrith, with 53 reasons why we love him…

1. For leading the Panthers to three consecutive NRL premierships

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary cops a Grand Final tradition. Photo: NRL Images.

2. For his stirring pre-game speeches

3. For his newfound humorous side

4. For his post 2023 Grand Final celebrations on the ‘Today’ show

5. For his 226 games in charge of the Panthers

6. For being the father of Nathan

Ivan and Nathan Cleary at the Panthers Academy. Photo: Melinda Jane.

7. For teaching Nathan how to convert goals

8. For his dedication to the local community

Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary signs autographs at the club’s fundraiser for bush

9. For being a former North Sydney Bear

10. For coaching Lebanon

11. For leaving the Warriors to join Penrith

12. For his cheeky smile

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. Photo: NRL Images.

13. For being a silver fox

14. For his calm nature

15. For helping local charities

Ivan Cleary supporting the WestCare fundraiser last Thursday.

16. For his weekly insights into the game

17. For rarely appearing on ‘NRL 360’

18. For being the best-looking coach in the NRL

19. For being the father of Jett

20. For the ‘Undisputed’ belt idea

21. For choosing Penrith to raise his family

22. For blowing kisses to fans from the coaches box

Ivan Cleary blows a fan a kiss last weekend. Photo: Fox Sports.

23. For working McHappy Day

24. For being the father of Indi

25. For making his first grade debut in 1992

26. For donating a kidney to his brother

Ivan and Ash Cleary at Panthers HQ today

27. For promoting organ donation

28. For being the NRL’s top point scorer in 1998

29. For his 2021 feud with Wayne Bennett

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett. Photo: NRL Photos.

30. For being the father of Milaya

31. For letting Nathan eat lollies during a post-match press conference

32. For being friends with former Chairman Dave O’Neill

33. For being open with the media

Ivan Cleary chats with the media.

34. For letting his players be themselves

35. For being tough but fair

Jarome Luai and Ivan Cleary. Photo: NRL Images.

36. For leaving the Roosters for the Warriors

37. For being the Dally M Coach of the Year twice

2020 Dally M Coach of the Year Ivan Cleary. Photo: NRL Images.

38. For guiding Penrith to three minor premierships

39. For reaching four straight NRL Grand Finals

40. For his amazing wife Bec

Ivan Cleary with his wife Bec.

41. For co-owning a Pinot & Picasso franchise

Ivan and Bec Cleary.

42. For debuting countless local juniors

43. For not complaining about the referee in Wigan

44. For handing Brian To’o his NRL debut

45. For playing in the 2002 Grand Final

46. For playing 186 first grade games

47. For taking Phil Gould’s phone call in 2011

Ivan Cleary in his early days at the Panthers. Photo: Melinda Jane

48. For staying calm under pressure

49. For turning his assistants into NRL coaches

Cameron Ciraldo and Ivan Cleary. Photo: NRL Photos.

50. For bouncing back after being sacked in 2015

51. For bouncing back after his scary illness in 2022

Ivan Cleary arriving at BlueBet Stadium last week. Photo: NRL Images.

52. For being Penrith’s most successful coach ever

53. For hopping off the bus

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. Photo: NRL Images.

Happy Birthday, Ivan!

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