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Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 13:00 UK

Strachan leads tributes to Burns


Gordon Strachan is devastated by the loss of Tommy Burns

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has paid an emotional tribute to Tommy Burns after his death at the age of 51.

Strachan visited the club's first-team coach less than 24 hours before his passing - and he misses Burns, the person, as much as the colleague.

"The best part of coming to Celtic, above everything else, is that it has been a fantastic journey," he said.

"But the last few years, calling Tommy Burns my friend. That's the best thing you can get."

He added: "That's no disrespect to football, but being Tommy's mate was the best part of joining Celtic. We're talking about a legend here.

"As I said all along, people should be judged not as a footballer but as a person.

Tommy Burns was a Celtic legend - Peter Lawwell

"There weren't many better than him. But, as a person, he was top of the league when it comes to being a man.

"Even yesterday, when I was with him, his faith was incredible. All he was interested in was making sure Rosemary and the kids, and I, were all right. He wasn't thinking about himself, which is absolutely incredible."

Strachan admitted it will be hard now to return his side's attention towards their pursuit of the Scottish Premier League title.

"I can't think that way," he revealed. "It's far away. It was strange, yesterday he was trying to make his family strong.

"We have a couple of days to really think about it. And then we'll get on.

"But all of us, as players, coaches, physios are lucky to have had Tommy in our lives."

Club captain Stephen McManus was full of praise for the manner in which Burns made his younger charges feel "very important" in his role as head of development.

And the mood, he said, among the playing staff is one of immense grief.

"It's very, very tough," said McManus. "I've spoken to a few of the players and we're all pretty much numb. A few of the lads have known for some time that he's not been too well.

Stephen McManus pays tribute to Tommy Burns' courage, warmth and generosity

"Then he'd bounce into the training ground as if everything's fine. That shows you what he's like as a man, that he was willing to fight on.

"He made sure you didn't feel awkward or no-one felt sorry for him.

"He was courageous and he was probably as brave a man as you'll ever meet."

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell revealed that the club have received messages of condolence from all around the world as news of Burns' death spreads.

And he hailed "the passion" that the former Scotland midfielder had brought to Celtic Park throughout his career.

"Today, we lost a coach and head of youth," he said. "But, more importantly, we lost one of this club's favourite sons.

"If you define a Celtic man, it would certainly be Tommy Burns. He was a wonderful human being.

"Tommy also transcended the football world, the divide in this city. You can see that outside now by the tributes coming in from every club. That takes a very special person."

see also
Celtic the hub of Burns' career
15 May 08 |  Celtic
Tommy Burns - A life in pictures
15 May 08 |  Scotland
Burns severs ties with Scotland
18 Jan 07 |  Internationals

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