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Tony Scappaticci was one of local game's finest players, says Coyle

 

By Graham Luney

Glenn Ferguson and Roy Coyle have paid tribute to Glenavon legend Tony Scappaticci whose death at the age of 48 has shocked the Lurgan Blues and wider Irish league family.

The father-of-three, who had been living in Banbridge, was part of Glenavon's team which won the Irish Cup in 1992 when teenager Gerard McMahon scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Linfield in front of 14,000 fans at the Oval.

Affectionately known as 'Scappi', he was a no-nonsense and versatile defender who was commanding in the air and a real character away from the heat of battle.

Read more: Tony Scappaticci a fearless competitor was also joker in the pack

Scappaticci retired from local football in 2000 after spells with Bangor and Newry City, but his exploits for the Mourneview Park side in the early 1990s are still fondly recalled by many.

Linfield and Glenavon legend Ferguson, who along with Stephen McBride missed the 1992 Irish Cup final through injury, said: "I was in Lurgan and talking to Gary Hamilton and we were both stunned by the news.

"In my first year at Glenavon he was a left-back who could also play centre-back and, although he wasn't a big man, he was very good in the air, had a great leap and was a real tough nut for sure. He never shirked a tackle.

"He was a good lad and I got on well with him. The '92 Cup final win was fantastic though I missed it through injury. Gerard got the winner and it earned him a move to Tottenham. There was a good healthy mixture of youth and experience in the team and it was a joy to be part of it.

"Tony was a great player to have around, always joking and laughing and he was certainly a character. I can remember we both ended up in the boardroom just before a game and he ended up knocking back a pint of Guinness in about 20 seconds and no, it didn't seem to affect his performance.

"It was a great time for Glenavon and, while there were plenty of goals in the team, the foundation was there at the back starting with Robbie Beck in goals and Scappi at left-back while Paul Byrne was captain. We had good experienced players at the back and the boys up top who knew where the net was. It's very sad news and we all send our condolences to the family."

Former Linfield and Glentoran boss Roy Coyle, the most successful manager in the history of Irish League football, was also stunned by the sad news.

"Tony will be remembered as a fantastic player and it's very sad news," said Coyle, currently Director of Football at Glentoran.

"He was techincally a very good player and an out and out defender who was dangerous going forward as well. He was a great athlete who was able to race up and down the line and a very good Irish League player.

"That Glenavon team of the 1990s was a formidable attacking force and not many teams scored more goals than them. I just can't believe we have lost him at the age of 48."

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