Former Northern Ireland manager Terry Neill dies aged 80

Former Arsenal and Northern Ireland captain and manager Terry Neill has died aged 80, it has been announced.

Born in Belfast in 1942, Neill rose through the ranks of Bangor’s youth team and continued to play for Arsenal, having joined the club for £2,500 in 1959.

The Football Writers’ Association has expressed its sadness at the loss of a football hero.

“We are saddened to learn that Terry Neill, who enjoyed a successful career as a player and manager and once hosted the FWA’s committee meetings, has passed away,” it said.

When the centre-back turned 20, he became Arsenal’s youngest-ever captain – a record that still stands.

Neill made over 270 appearances for the club before moving to Hull City where he ended his days on the pitch.

When asked who the first name was on his team sheet when he was player-manager of Northern Ireland, he famously remarked: ‘Me! Then George Best and Pat Jennings.”

N eill was also proud to say he scored the only goal of the game as Northern Ireland last beat England at Wembley 50 years ago when they beat Alf Ramsey’s side in May 1972

After a stint in charge at Arsenal’s rivals Tottenham, replacing legendary doubles winner Bill Nicholson, he returned to Highbury aged just 34, becoming the youngest manager in Arsenal’s modern history.

Neill signed star players like Malcolm MacDonald and Jennings, while the emergence of outstanding young talent like Liam Brady, Frank Stapleton and David O’Leary put Arsenal back among the top clubs in the country.

Honors were spearheaded by the club where he made history.

Arsenal praised his combination of “tenacity, vision and natural leadership” which resulted in a “sublime” playing career.

A statement added: “Although Terry was no longer involved in football management, he remained a regular presence at Highbury and then Emirates Stadium, including as a popular TV pundit and columnist in numerous publications.

“His outstanding character and willingness to talk to everyone about football always made him a popular figure at the club on matchdays.

“Terry Neill’s status as both club captain and manager made him a huge 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 thoughts are with Terry’s family and close friends at this difficult time.” Former Northern Ireland manager Terry Neill dies aged 80

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