"It makes me smile" - Paul Huntington on being PNE's Cumbrian Cannavaro

Paul Huntington - PNE's 'Cumbrian Cannavaro'.
Paul Huntington - PNE's 'Cumbrian Cannavaro'.

One is a World Cup winning captain who amassed 136 caps for his country.

The other has been the heartbeat of Alex Neil’s Preston side this season, leading a defence largely ravaged by injuries to 10th in the Championship table as things stand.

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The comparison between Italian great Fabio Cannavaro, the 2006 Ballon d’Or winner, and North End stopper Paul Huntington may seem a little far fetched but North End fans have certainly embraced their ‘Cumbrian Cannavaro’ this season.

It may be an unlikely nickname by the PNE centre-half’s own admission but the chant has become commonplace at games up and down the country this season.

“It’s quite, funny – I like it,” said the Carlisle-born defender.

“It’s great, I was going off on Saturday and the fans were singing it.

"It makes me smile. I’ve heard it mainly away from home. Thanks very much to the fans for it. It does make me laugh.”

Former Newcastle and Leeds man Huntington admits he does not see the likeness with the former Real Madrid and Juventus star, who is now managing out in China after a glittering player career.

“I don’t really see the similarities, no,” Huntington said with a smile.

“Quite a few of the lads and the staff have said there aren’t many too but I’ll certainly take it. I think he’s won quite a few honours hasn’t he?

“It’s nice to hear people sing, well not your name, but your nickname.”

Huntington has started 19 times in the centre of Neil’s defence this season, wearing the captain’s armband for long periods after injuries to Tom Clarke and Greg Cunningham.

The 30-year-old arrived at Deepdale in the summer of 2012 and is the club’s joint longest-serving player along with John Welsh, making more that 200 appearances in total.