July 29 – Former Arsenal and Northern Ireland captain and manager Terry Neill has died at the age of 80.
Neill had remarkable success at a young age. At 20 he was Arsenal’s youngest ever captain – a record that still stands – having made his first team debut at 18. A hard defender on the pitch he was a successful manager off it.
He retired from playing at the age of 28 and by the time he was 34 he was back at Arsenal as manager.
Neill played more than 270 games for the club between 1957 and 1970. As manager he took Arsenal to three consecutive FA Cup finals.
He won 59 international caps, including a spell as Northern Ireland player-manager.
He once famously remarked when asked who was first name on his team sheet while player-manager of Northern Ireland: “Me! Then George Best and Pat Jennings.”
Paying tribute to his former teammate and manager, Jennings, and Arsenal goalkeeping legend, said: “He was a great man and a massive influence on my career right from joining the Northern Ireland team back in 1964.
“Terry brought me to Arsenal where he gave me two four-year contracts, and he was also my manager at Spurs.
“We enjoyed many memorable moments together including four Cup finals – two FA Cups and a European decider. I’m indebted to Terry for the assistance and support he gave me during my career.”
In a statement, Arsenal hoighlighted Neill’s “combination of tenacity, vision and natural leadership”.
“After impressing at Hull City, Terry was appointed manager of Tottenham Hotspur in September 1974 and in June 1976 made the short trip back to Highbury to take over the manager role vacated by Bertie Mee.”
“He pulled off a masterstroke by bringing in former team-mate and supreme tactician Don Howe to work alongside him and the Gunners became one of the most effective cup teams in the country.
“Despite not working in football management again, Terry remained a regular presence at Highbury then Emirates Stadium, including being a popular TV pundit and columnist in numerous publications.
“His fantastic contribution – and indeed his character – will always be appreciated by everyone associated with the club. Our thoughts are with Terry’s family and close friends at this difficult time.”
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