Irish League mourns death of Alex Russell

Former Linfield goalkeeper Alex Russell
Former Linfield goalkeeper Alex Russell

Former Linfield goalkeeper Alex ‘Sandy’ Russell has died at the age of 91.

Russell passed away in hospital on Monday after a short illness.

The goalkeeping great became a legendary figure at Windsor Park following a stellar career between the posts during the 1940s and 50s.

Alex, or Sandy as he was affectionately known, was raised in the twin villages of Kells and Connor outside Ballymena.

Having started his career with Summerfield in the Irish Intermediate League, Russell signed for Cliftonville in the 1941/42 season before joining Linfield in 1944.

He would go on to earn 39 medals – including four league titles – during 16 years at Windsor.

Russell also enjoyed 12 appearances for the Irish League representative side, including a 5-2 victory over an English select side in 1956 which included the likes of Jimmy Armfield and Wilf Mannion.

He also earned one international cap in a 7-2 defeat to England in 1946.

After retiring from playing, Russell continued his association with Linfield, firstly as coach with the Swifts and later as first team trainer.

A romance of 30 years with the Blues saw the club rename the Spion Kop Stand in his honour in 2004.

He was also inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2012 when he became only the sixth recipient of the Torrans Trophy – presented to any player past or present who is deemed to have achieved legendary status.

Linfield paid tribute on the club’s official website on Monday afternoon, and a minute’s silence was observed before that evening’s game with Glenavon.