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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
NI great Peacock dies
Bertie Peacock starred for Northern Ireland in the 1958 World Cup finals
Bertie Peacock gave George Best his Northern Ireland debut
Northern Ireland and Celtic great Bertie Peacock has died at the age of 75 after a short illness.

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

Peacock starred for the Northern Ireland team which made the last eight of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

His managerial career also included guiding his native Coleraine to their only Irish League title in 1974.

He was also instrumental in starting the Milk Cup tournament which has developed into one of the top competitions in youth football.

Peacock, one of the giants of Northern Ireland international football, was nicknamed the 'Little Ant' because of his prodigious work rate.

His career began with his home town club Coleraine and he had a brief stint at Belfast outfit Glentoran before joining Celtic in 1949.

He was a true Celtic hero and he will be missed by everyone who knew him
Celtic spokesman

He won Scottish League and Cup medals with the Glasgow giants and he also captained the club.

After his 11-year international career, he succeeded Peter Doherty as Northern Ireland manager in 1962 and a 12-year stint in charge of Coleraine followed.

The former Celtic great also served on the Northern Ireland Sports Council and was one of the province's most popular sporting sons.

The 75-year-old underwent a hip operation in Belfast earlier this week and suffered a heart attack but had seemed to be recovering until a further attack early on Thursday.

A Celtic spokesman said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Bertie's family at this sad time.

"He was a true Celtic hero and he will be missed by everyone who knew him."

Victor Leonard, chairman of the Milk Cup committee and a close personal friend, said: "Bertie Peacock could walk into any supporters club and receive a rousing reception.

"It didn't matter if it was Celtic or Rangers. It was wonderful and always brought a smile to his face."

Interview: Liam Beckett on Bertie Peacock

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