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Rangers to pay tribute to Linfield and Northern Ireland legend Billy Simpson

The Blues will don black armbands today in tribute to famous player

By Jonathan Bell

Rangers Football Club will hold a minute's silence at their next home game in a mark of respect to former Belfast player Billy Simpson, who has died.

Linfield have also paid tribute to their former striker, and are to wear black armbands at their game against Dungannon on Saturday in honour of the legendary goalscorer.

Simpson was a prolific forward at Windsor Park during the 1940s before earning a big-money move to Ibrox in 1950.

The proud Donegall Road native - who lived in Glasgow with his family before his death - was also capped 12 times by Northern Ireland.

The 87-year-old grew up in the shadow of Windsor Park.

Rangers Director Paul Murray said he was "extremely saddened" to hear of Billy's passing.

"My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time," he said.

"The term 'legend' is used very freely in football but in Billy's case it was richly deserved. I am delighted that we were able to host a tribute evening to Billy at Ibrox last month. We had a great turn-out and it was particularly fitting that we were joined by our good friends from Linfield."

Linfield has described him as one of the club's all-time greats.

In a statement, the club said: "It is with deep sorrow and profound regret that Linfield FC records the sad passing of Billy Simpson. Billy was the local boy from the Village area of south Belfast who went on to achieve fame as a player of great pedigree with Linfield, Glasgow Rangers and Northern Ireland. The deepest sympathy and most sincere condolences of everyone at Linfield Football Club are extended to the grieving family circle at this very sad time. The Linfield players will wear black armbands at tomorrow's game in Dungannon by way of tribute and in honour of one of our most famous ever players."

Billy scored twice on his Linfield debut in a 5-0 win against Cliftonville on March 24, 1947. It was a sign of things to come, as he went on to score 93 goals in 143 senior appearances for the Blues, winning back-to-back titles in 1949 and 1950 and lifting the Irish Cup in 1948 - scoring in a 3-0 victory over Coleraine at Celtic Park - and again in 1950 with a 2-1 win against Distillery at Windsor Park.

Billy also enjoyed three Gold Cup successes, including scoring a hat-trick against Glenavon in the final during the 1948/49 season, the same year he claimed an Ulster Cup winners' medal.

It was legendary Rangers manager Bill Struth who brought Billy to Ibrox for a fee of £11,500 on October 19, 1950.

In Scotland, Billy continued his scoring streak by bagging 174 goals in 262 appearances for the Gers.

He won Scottish League winners' medals in 1953, '56 and '57, and was also a member of the Rangers side that won the Scottish Cup in 1953.

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