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Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 15:40 UK

Celtic's Burns loses cancer fight

Tommy Burns
Burns had been receiving treatment for skin cancer

Celtic legend Tommy Burns has died at the age of 51 after losing his long-running battle against cancer.

Burns had been undergoing treatment in both Glasgow and France in recent weeks after being diagnosed in March.

The former Scotland midfielder was treated for skin cancer in 2006, but it returned earlier this year.

Burns was with Celtic from 1974 to 1989, had a spell as manager in the mid-1990s and was the club's first-team coach before being granted leave.

A statement from Celtic said: "Tommy, a true Celtic legend and wonderful man will be sadly missed by us all. Clearly, our thoughts are very much with Tommy's wife, Rosemary, and his family at this extremely difficult time."


Burns was an influential member of the side that won the Scottish Premier Division championship and Scottish Cup in the club's centenary year under the management of Billy McNeill.

Having won eight caps for Scotland, he bid an emotional farewell to Celtic after agreeing a 50,000 move to Kilmarnock, becoming manager at Rugby Park four years later.

Having guided the club back into the top flight, he was appointed as boss of Celtic in July 1994 and eventually helped the club to end a six-year trophy famine by lifting the Scottish Cup final against Airdrieonians at Hampden.

After parting company in 1997, he had spells as manager at Reading and assistant at Newcastle United before eventually returning to Glasgow.

Gordon Strachan is devastated at the loss of Tommy Burns

He worked in a variety of roles at Celtic - in youth development and with the first team - as well as serving as a member of the Scotland coaching set-up, before his untimely death.

Former Celtic captain Billy McNeill said Burns' death would be mourned by everyone connected with the club and talked of his special connection with Celtic supporters.

"Tommy was a very genuine man and he enjoyed life. If there was a party, Tommy Burns would be out there singing and enjoying himself.

"He had a relationship with the fans.They believed he was one of them and he enjoyed that.

He was a fantastic football player. He was effective, so effective.

Former team-mate Alan McInally

"He was a fans favourite because they saw he put his heart and soul into things. He loved the jersey.

"Tommy did not get that many international caps and that was strange. He was a very accomplished player."

And Fergus McCann, the Parkhead club's chief executive during Burns' stint as manager, was equally effusive in paying tribute.

"I am deeply saddened to hear of Tommy's death," McCann said.

"I pray for the repose of his soul and for strength for his wife Rosemary and their children.

"Tommy had a fine career and every Celtic supporter and Scottish football fan will have their own special memories of a man whose life was dedicated to his family, to the game of football and in particular to Celtic Football Club.

"Those memories will live on."

Peter Rafferty, Secretary of the Association of Celtic Supporters' Clubs, mirrored McCann's comments.

"Celtic was a big part of his life, but the biggest part of his life was his family. He became a grandfather a few weeks ago and that is the biggest tragedy," Rafferty said.

"Legend is a word that is used quite a lot these days, but he was. He was a great player with Celtic first and foremost.

"He was a manager who played football the way Celtic supporters like to see it."

The SFA, who Burns served as a national team coach under Scotland managers Berti Vogts and Walter Smith, described him as a "magnificent ambassador" to the game.

Tommy Burns was a Celtic legend - Peter Lawwell

"Everyone at the Scottish FA would like to pass on their condolences to the family of Tommy Burns at this very sad time," a statement read.

"Tommy's passing is a great loss and he will be sadly missed by us all. He was a true gentleman and a magnificent ambassador for Scottish football."

Alan McInally, who played alongside Burns at Celtic and under him at Kilmarnock, added: "He was a fantastic football player.

"He was effective, so effective. I think that's why as a coach and a manager he did so well."

see also
Celtic the hub of Burns' career
15 May 08 |  Celtic
Tommy Burns - A life in pictures
15 May 08 |  Scotland
Rangers abandon bus parade plan
15 May 08 |  Rangers

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