Salute to a True Gentleman; BYLN:GEORGE GRANT

Article excerpt


1) Father figure: Fergus McCann forged a close bond with Burns after making him manager in 19942) Silver streak: lifting the 1995 Scottish Cup with Billy Stark3) For club and country: Burns strode the European and international stage with Celtic and Scotland (right) in the heady, halcyon days of the Eighties when the silky midfielder was in his pomp4) National hero: with Walter Smith and Ally McCoist5) Head Bhoy: Tommy proudly shows off the 1988 Scottish Cup

TRIBUTES poured in from around the world for Tommy Burns last night,with former Celtic chairman Fergus McCann among those paying their respects tothe Parkhead legend.

McCann, who appointed Burns as Celtic manager at the start of the 1994-95season, broke a long-held period of public silence to say: 'I am deeplysaddened to hear of Tommy's death.

'I pray for the repose of his soul and for strength for his wife Rosemary andtheir children.

'Tommy had a fine career and every Celtic supporter and Scottish football fanwill have their own special memories of a man whose life was dedicated to hisfamily, to the game of football and, in particular, to Celtic Football Club.Those memories will live on.' Henrik Larsson also spoke of his deep respect forBurns, whom he described as both 'a great coach and a wonderful man'.

The pair worked together for six years at Parkhead under Kenny Dalglish andthen Martin O'Neill.

Now playing for Helsingborgs in his native Sweden, Larsson said: 'Tommy wasn'tjust a great player and a great coach, he was a really wonderful man.

'He loved Celtic deeply, but, more than anything, he cared about people.

'Along with everyone who knew him, I've been left with some great memories ofhim.

'As far as football was concerned, he was very knowledgeable about the game andalways wanted it to be played positively and in an entertaining way.

'His heart was totally at Celtic and he would have done anything for the club.

'He always had time for people and was interested in people. Tommy was apassionate man, cared deeply about things, and was always somebody you couldtalk to for advice.

'I feel so sorry for everyone who knew him. They have lost a fine man and onewho will never be forgotten.' Current Celtic chairman John Reid said: 'Tommy issomeone who was loved by so many of us. He was a man of true integrity anddignity.

'He was a true gentleman and someone who had the ability to connect and engagewith anyone he met.' Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said: 'It's verysad, he was a real good man.' Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent his condolencesto Burns' family and commended his love of free-flowing football which won somany admirers during his time as Celtic boss. …