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Ex-Arsenal, Spurs and NI boss Neill dies

Former Arsenal, Tottenham and Northern Ireland manager Terry Neill has died at the age of 80.

Neill became the youngest player to captain the Gunners in 1962 during an 11-year playing career there, and went on to manage them between 1976 and 1983.

He led Arsenal to 1979 FA Cup glory amid a run to three successive finals, plus the 1980 European Cup Winners’ Cup final, which ended in a penalty shootout defeat against Valencia.

Unusually he arrived back at Highbury as manager after a two-year spell up the Seven Sisters High Road at rivals Tottenham where he had replaced the great Bill Nicholson.

Arsenal said in a statement: “It was with great sadness that the club learned of the death of former manager and captain, Terry Neill, aged 80.

“Terry was associated with the club for over 20 years, firstly as a player having joined us as a 17-year-old from Bangor City in his native Northern Ireland in December 1959.

“The midfielder’s combination of tenacity, vision and natural leadership soon forced him into first-team reckoning, making his debut against Sheffield Wednesday on December 23, 1960. Just two years later, aged 20, he was appointed Arsenal’s youngest ever captain by new boss Billy Wright.

“Terry Neill’s status as both club captain and manager made him a major influence on 20th-century Arsenal. 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.”

Neill was 28 when he finished his playing days with a spell as player-manager of Hull City.

He won 59 caps and scored the only goal the last time Northern Ireland beat England at Wembley 50 years ago.

He also took charge of his country on a part-time basis between 1971 and 1975.

Asked who was first name on his team sheet, he famously remarked: “Me! Then George Best and Pat Jennings.”

Neill retired from football aged 41 after parting company with Arsenal in 1983. He then pursued a successful career in the media and ran a popular bar.

He is survived by his wife Sandra, two daughters and four grandchildren.

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