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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Statue tribute to NI soccer legend
By Bryce McGarel
BBC News

A statue in memory of a Northern Ireland footballing legend has been unveiled in his home town of Coleraine.

The bronze statue by artist Ross Wilson depicts Peacock wearing his Northern Ireland kit

Bertie Peacock earned 31 caps for Northern Ireland, and while managing his country in the 1960s gave an international debut to George Best.

The memorial was unveiled by former NI and Spurs goalkeeper Pat Jennings, who also gained his first Northern Ireland cap under Peacock in 1964.

The bronze statue by artist Ross Wilson depicts Peacock, who died in July 2004 at the age of 75, wearing his international kit.

Jennings said taking part in Saturday's ceremony at the Diamond would be one of the biggest honours of his career.

The Newry-born star was joined at the ceremony by Bertie's son, Russell.

"I am so pleased to have been asked to take part in this tribute to a great man," Jennings said.

"He encouraged us and we all held him in the highest esteem. He was a legend himself and yet was always such a humble person."

'Little Ant'

Peacock, dubbed the "Little Ant" for his heroics in the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden when Northern Ireland reached the quarter finals, is the first international to have a statue erected in his honour in Northern Ireland.

He also had an illustrious club career at Celtic, where he won Scottish League and Cup medals with the Glasgow giants and also captained the club.

After his playing and managerial careers ended, Peacock was instrumental in starting the annual Milk Cup tournament in Coleraine.

The tournament has since developed into one of the leading youth football competitions in the world.

Tournament chairman Victor Leonard said having the statue in place was a fitting way to kick-off the 25th anniversary of the tournament, which begins on Sunday.

"We would not have this tournament without the input of Bertie," he said.

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