Billy Bingham: A tactical football genius with true Norn Iron spirit in his soul

News Letter editorial on Saturday June 11 2022:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Gerry Armstrong’s winning strike against Spain on that glorious night in Valencia at the World Cup in 1982.

Pat Jennings’ miracle saves at Wembley propelling Northern Ireland to Mexico and yet another global football tournament four years later.

A squad that in some of the darkest days of the Troubles brought light and joy into our lives, all those heroes guided by a shrewd, tactical genius - Billy Bingham.

The national side’s most successful manager has died at 90 having lived barring one decade through almost all of Northern Ireland’s first 100 years.

And he had Norn Iron in the soul.

Before Billy went to the dugout he had an accomplished career on the pitch playing for Luton Town in the 1959 FA cup final and winning the league with Everton in 1963.

Long before those unforgettable evenings in Valencia and Madrid, Billy knew all about competing at World Cups putting on the green jersey for his country at Sweden in 1958.

The politely spoken, pipe-smoking tactician went on to manage Mansfield Town, Everton and even the Greek national team.

Yet it is his record in Spain and Mexico during those halcyon days of the 1980s that mark Billy out as a world football legend managing teams that humbled the planet’s soccer giants.