Terry Neill was a footballer of “tenacity, vision and natural leadership”, Arsenal FC have said after the death of the former Northern Ireland captain and manager.
r Neill, who also coached and led the Gunners, died on Thursday aged 80.
He led the team to 1979 FA Cup glory in a run of three successive finals.
The former footballer, born in Belfast in 1942, came through the ranks of the Bangor youth team and later played for Arsenal, joining the club for £2,500 in 1959 aged 17.
In 1962, the 20-year-old became the club’s youngest captain – a record that still stands. He played for the team for 11 years and managed the team between 1976 and 1983.
Mr Neill played in over 270 games for the club before moving to Hull City, where he ended his playing days.
He earned 59 caps for Northern Ireland and had a long spell as the side’s part-time manager between 1971 and 1975.
When asked who the first name was on his roster when he was a player-manager, he replied, “Me, then George Best and Pat Jennings.”
He was proud to say he scored the game’s only goal the last time Northern Ireland beat England at Wembley – when they beat Alf Ramsey’s side in May 1972.
The Irish FA shared an old photo of the great footballer with the words: “Thoughts of everyone at the Irish FA are with the family of Terry Neill, who has sadly passed away at the age of 80.”
The tributes were led by the club where he made history, with Arsenal praising the combination of “tenacity, vision and natural leadership” that led to an “illustrious” playing career.
“Although he no longer worked in management, Terry remained a regular presence at Highbury and then the Emirates Stadium, including as a popular TV pundit and columnist in numerous publications,” the club said.
“His larger than life character and willingness to talk football with everyone has always made him a beloved figure at the club on matchdays.
“Terry Neill’s status as captain and manager of the club made him a major influence on Arsenal in the 20th century.
“His fantastic contribution – and indeed his character – will always be appreciated by everyone associated with the club.
“Our hearts go out to Terry’s family and close friends at this difficult time.”
Bangor FC have expressed their “great sadness” over the loss of their former player, who recently attended a special event at the club. “Terry was a special guest at our centenary celebration and shared stories of his career with Arsenal, Spurs and Northern Ireland,” the club explained in a tweet.
“Our thoughts are with Terry’s family and friends at this time.”
Famous Arsenal fan and broadcaster Piers Morgan also took to social media to pay a moving tribute.
“[He was an] The legend of Arsenal, and such a warm, fun and passionate character. Very sad news,” he wrote.
Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson says Mr Neill tried to sign him when he was in charge of Arsenal.
“I chose Liverpool. Every time I met him he called me ‘the one who got away’. Terry loved life. We will miss him,” he added.
Former Arsenal sports pundit Ray Parlor said he was “absolutely devastated” by the news.
“I had a great time talking about his time and my time. Legend and top man,” he tweeted.
The Football Writers’ Association (FWA) also expressed sadness at the death.
“We are saddened to learn that Terry Neill, who had a successful career as a player and manager and at one time hosted FWA committee meetings, has passed away,” he said. declared.
Mr. Neill is survived by his wife Sandra, two daughters and four grandchildren.
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