LONDON: Northern Ireland international Jimmy McIlroy, widely regarded as Burnley’s finest ever player, has died aged 86, the club announced on Monday.
An inside forward who was capped 55 times and helped the Northern Irish reach the 1958 World Cup quarter-finals, McIlroy was an integral part of the ‘Clarets’ team that won the 1960 league title.
With McIlroy’s help the club also narrowly missed out on achieving the domestic double in 1962, finishing second in the league and losing in the FA Cup final.
McIlroy — whose standing in the annals of the club’s history is such they named a stand in his honour in the 1990’s — scored 131 goals for Burnley in the 12 years he spent thereafter he joined from Northern Irish outfit Glentoran.
He was part of the golden era for the club between 1956 and 1962 — the year he left for Stoke City for £25,000. During that spell they never finished worse than seventh in the First Division and reached the European Cup quarter-finals in 1961.
“Burnley Football Club is greatly saddened to hear of the death of Jimmy McIlroy –- widely regarded as the club’s finest ever player,” read a statement from the club posted on their website.
McIlroy helped Stoke win promotion to the top tier in his first season there and the 1964 League Cup final which they lost 4-3 to Leicester City.
McIlroy tried his hand at management — firstly at Oldham in 1965 having been hired by their chairman Ken Bates who was to go on to be the controversial owner of Chelsea and Leeds United.
But he never took to it with the same aplomb he had shown as a player and after a brief stint at Bolton in 1970 never sat in the dugout again.