Humble Ronnie Moran never forgot his own: Jim Magilton
Jim Magilton has hailed Liverpool legend Ronnie Moran as a humble man who never forgot his roots.
The club's former captain and coach, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia four years ago, died yesterday morning aged 83 having served the club for 49 years.
He performed a variety of roles, from player all the way to caretaker boss on two occasions, and during his stay the club won 13 league championships, four European Cups, two UEFA Cups, five FA Cups and five League Cups.
Former Northern Ireland international Magilton began his career with Liverpool in 1986 and it was the unmistakable voice of Moran which helped educate the west Belfast teenager before the door opened to a professional career with Oxford United, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town.
New player-boss Kenny Dalglish could rely on the support of Roy Evans, Phil Thompson and Chris Lawler along with Ronnie Moran who was a huge influence on one particular teenager who would go on to win 52 Northern Ireland caps.
"Ronnie was a larger than life character and despite being involved in a team of superstars he has a humble man and his humility shone through," said Magilton. "He was down to earth and never forgot his Liverpool roots, an outlook on life that remained with him despite his phenomenal success. His feet remained on the ground.
"I can remember him placing a box in the room and throwing medals at the players. When I was a young apprentice around January, 1986 Ronnie's voice was the first I heard and it continued to echo around Melwood Training Ground as he let players hear it. His message to the players was always to be better than they were yesterday, a message not to rest on your laurels and always strive to improve.
"He really enjoyed the old boot room team and being around the backroom staff.
Ronnie was a very nice man who always had Liverpool in his blood. Jim Magilton
"His influence on the players, including myself, was huge, you learned how to be a professional and how to train properly, he got the best out of us."
Magilton (below in Southampton colours) turned professional in 1988 but never made a dream first team debut for the Reds. He was transferred to then Second Division side Oxford United in October 1990 at the age of 21.
"When Kenny Dalglish brought me in to say the club had accepted an offer for me I was naturally devastated, but Ronnie came up to me in the car park and explained to me that the club had given me the foundations to become a professional footballer and now it was up to me to go and enjoy my football with Oxford United and progress my career," he added. "Three and a half years later I made my debut for Southampton against Liverpool, it was my first Premier League game and we won 4-2 with Matt Le Tissier scoring a couple.
"At the old Dell stadium you walk up wooden steps and both Ronnie and Roy Evans were waiting for me at the bottom to shake my hand and that showed the class of the men.
"Though disappointed after the game, with Liverpool's defeat they still found time to show that they never forget their own, that summed them up for me."