Terry Neill: Former Arsenal and Northern Ireland captain and manager dies aged 80

Terry Neill talks to his Arsenal team ahead of extra time in the 1980 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final against Valencia

Former Arsenal and Northern Ireland captain and manager Terry Neill has died aged 80.

Born in Belfast, Neill was Arsenal’s youngest captain at 20 and played over 270 games for the club between 1957 and 1970.

Neill was just 34 when he returned to manage Arsenal, leading the Gunners to three consecutive FA Cup finals.

The defender has won 59 international caps, including a stint as player-manager of Northern Ireland.

Neill was born in 1942 and played for the Bangor youth team before joining Arsenal for £2,500 in 1959.

He made his first-team debut aged 18 and was soon Arsenal’s youngest ever captain, a record that still stands.

Two managerial giants of the future - Glasgow Rangers striker Alex Ferguson and Arsenal's Terry Neill battle for the ball in a 1967 friendly
Two managerial giants of the future – Glasgow Rangers striker Alex Ferguson and Arsenal’s Terry Neill battle for the ball in a 1967 friendly

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

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.”

Neill was also proud to say he scored the game’s only goal the last time Northern Ireland beat England at Wembley 50 years ago.

After a stint in charge of Arsenal rivals Tottenham, replacing legendary two-time winner Bill Nicholson, he returned to Highbury as the youngest manager in the club’s modern history.

The signings of star players such as Malcolm MacDonald and Jennings, along with the emergence of outstanding young talent such as Liam Brady, Frank Stapleton and David O’Leary, have re-established Arsenal as one of the top clubs in the country.

It was then that, after appointing Don Howe as manager, he guided Arsenal to those three consecutive FA Cup finals, lifting the trophy in spectacular fashion in the decisive 1979 match against Manchester United.

Neill then led the team to their third final at Wembley in 1980, days before a penalty shootout defeat in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final to Valencia.

Neill retired from football at the age of 41 after parting ways with Arsenal in 1983. He then went on to pursue a successful media career.

In a statement, Arsenal praised Neill’s “combination of tenacity, vision and natural leadership” as a player.

“After impressing at Hull City, Terry was appointed manager of Tottenham Hotspur in September 1974 and in June 1976 he made the short trip back to Highbury to take over the manager’s post vacated by Bertie Mee,” the statement added. .

“He pulled off a masterstroke by bringing in former team-mate and supreme tactician Don Howe to work alongside him and the Gunners have become one of the most successful cup teams in the country.

“Although he no longer worked in football management, Terry remained a regular presence at Highbury and then the Emirates Stadium, including as a popular TV pundit and columnist in numerous publications.

“His fantastic contribution – and indeed his character – will always be appreciated by everyone associated with the club. Our hearts go out to Terry’s family and close friends at this difficult time.”

About Ryan Headley

Check Also

FIX and REPLACE XY Retail Partners with Ocra to Expand European Reach and Improve SAP Solutions for Luxury Retailers

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The fifth paragraph, first sentence of the release should read: “The partnership between …