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Tommy Burns loses cancer fight

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 15 May 2008


Former Celtic midfielder and manager Tommy Burns has died aged 51, the Scottish club confirmed Thursday. He had been suffering from skin cancer.

“It is with great sadness that Celtic Football Club confirmed this morning that Tommy Burns has passed away,” the Glasgow giants said on their website.

“Tommy, a true Celtic legend and wonderful man, will be sadly missed by us all.

“Clearly, our thoughts are very much with Tommy's wife Rosemary and his family at this extremely difficult time.”

The club's first-team coach originally contracted skin cancer in 2006. Although he received treatment, the disease returned in March.

He had been undergoing treatment in both Glasgow and France in recent weeks.

Burns spent 15 years as a player at Parkhead, making 352 appearances for the Hoops between 1975 and 1989, scoring 52 goals.

He managed the club for three seasons between 1994 and 1997, winning the 1995 Scottish FA Cup.

Burns played eight times for Scotland between 1981 and 1988.

Tommy Gemmell, one of the 'Lisbon Lions' who won the 1967 European Cup for Celtic, got to know Burns well despite playing for the club at different times.

Gemmell said: “He was a tremendous player and a great manager. And a great person.

“I don't think you will find anyone on this earth who will say a bad word about him.

“My feelings go out to Rosemary and his family. It is a very sad occasion for someone so young. It's a sad loss.

“I never had the privilege of playing with him but I watched him many times. He was a superb player with a lethal left foot.

“He will be sorely missed.”

Another former Celtic team-mate, Frank McGarvey, said: “I'm shattered and I think everyone is shattered.

“He was one of Celtic's greatest servants and was one of the players who would try and go to every event that involved the supporters.

“He was only 51 and it's very hard to understand why this happens.

“He was one of the good guys, a winner, with a great sense of humour and he will be badly missed by everyone. A good friend has been taken away.”

Newcastle coach Terry McDermott revealed how Burns made a huge impact on him when Kenny Dalglish recruited him to the backroom staff at St James' Park.

The former Liverpool player told Sky Sports News: “It's devastating news, not just for the Celtic supporters and Newcastle supporters, but for the whole of football because he was such a lovely man.

“When he came to Newcastle I didn't know him. When Kenny brought him in, I thought, 'Why he has he brought him in?'.

“But it didn't take long to realise – his enthusiasm and knowledge of the game and, more than anything, the type of person he was. He was a fantastic guy and such a hard worker.”


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