Tommy Breslin: Football unites in tribute to ‘one in a million’ Cliftonville legend

Tommy Breslin died on Wednesday aged 58
Tommy Breslin died on Wednesday aged 58
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Club chairmen past and present have paid tribute to Cliftonville FC legend Tommy Breslin who died suddenly on Wednesday aged 58.

Former manager Breslin led the Reds to eight trophies in a four-year spell that included back-to-back Irish Premiership titles in 2013 and 2014.

His title success in 2013 ended the club’s 15-year wait for silverware.

Cliftonville patron and former chairman Jim Boyce said he was “totally devastated at the tragic news” of Mr Breslin’s passing.

“I’d like to send my deepest sympathies to Valerie and the entire family circle, as well as his many, many friends in football and beyond.

“Tommy Breslin was one of life’s true gentlemen. I never heard him angry, he never had a bad word to say about people and I know I never heard anyone say a bad word about him.

“He was so highly respected at Cliftonville, throughout the Irish League and the wider football community.”

Mr Boyce added: “But that wasn’t it. He was respected and universally liked by people in all sections of life in Northern Ireland. He will be sadly missed by us all.”

One of the highlights of Mr Breslin’s managerial career was a Champions League qualifying tie against Celtic in July 2013 – who were managed at that time by former Northern Ireland captain Neil Lennon.

Current Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor says Mr Breslin “changed people’s lives” during his reign at the club.

“Tommy was a totally unique human being,” he said.

“With his infectious smile and warm personality, he could change the atmosphere in a room by merely entering it.

“Bressie was one in a million, I genuinely have never heard a bad word said about him and I have yet to meet a more humble person.”

Mr Lawlor said Mr Breslin was one of the club’s “greatest sons,” and added: “He is a legend in the highest definition of the word. Tommy Breslin may be gone but he’ll never be forgotten by anyone at Cliftonville. He changed people’s lives, he made men believe and he delivered people’s dreams.

“He turned Cliftonville dreams into reality and led his club to unprecedented heights ... in hand with the most affable and engaging of personalities, guarantees his legendary status in perpetuity.”