Tommy Cassidy was the life and soul of the party. He would enter a room and light it up with a quip, a story or a smile.
Few could tell a yarn better than Cass. From tales about his old Northern Ireland team-mate and hero Georgie Best to his run-ins with supporters when he was managing Glentoran, the guy was a hoot. No wonder people gravitated towards him.
In the 1970s and 1980s Tommy was a superb footballer, adored by Newcastle and Burnley fans and respected elsewhere. He played in the 1982 World Cup for Northern Ireland and was a popular figure in a squad filled with national treasures like Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong, Norman Whiteside and Martin O'Neill.
Early in the 21st century he was a brilliant columnist for this newspaper and the old Ireland's Saturday Night and, just like in his midfield battles, he was never afraid to go in where it hurt when writing about Irish League football and the international scene.
He was also good enough to play in a media team I managed in charity games. With him in the dressing room the craic was ninety.
Last month I spoke on the phone to the former Northern Ireland star in his Newcastle home in the north east of England. There were a few quips but this was a different Tommy Cassidy. My old mate, who turned 70 in November, was chatting to me with Alzheimer's disease having a major impact on his life.
Wife Rosemary and Tommy wanted to tell their story in a bid to raise awareness of what they have been going through since he was diagnosed in 2017.
With empathy and love Rosemary, doing a remarkable job caring for Cass in the most testing of circumstances, talked about her husband's condition and the heartbreaking nature of it all.
Years ago in a three-way chat, myself or Rosemary wouldn't have got a word in edgeways with Tommy dominating the conversation. That doesn't happen so much these days.
There are laughs when I recount stories such as Cass and Gerry Armstrong being chosen at random for a drugs test after the iconic 1-0 victory over Spain in the World Cup when neither the midfielder or goalscorer could provide a sample, and needed to drink lots of beer to do so, leading to Gerry serenading all and sundry in the test room.
It used to be Tommy telling those stories and far better than I ever could.
Bring up his old times with Northern Ireland and he would engage about how Bestie was the greatest player he ever saw and how big Pat was the finest goalkeeper of all time.
He also made a valiant effort listing the players in the Newcastle team he played alongside. Boy did he grow to love the Magpies, having flown his Belfast nest 50 years ago, though when I ask him about today's side his knowledge is not what it once was, declaring that most modern day Premier League football bores him to tears.
Throw in names like Glen Little, who scored an Irish Cup final winner for Glentoran when Cass was manager, and David Healy, who he loved when he was smashing in goals for Northern Ireland, and he will talk about the pair of them.
There is a lovely moment when he asks me to tell Healy he was asking for him next time I'm in touch with the Linfield boss.
Before anyone had even thought about Steven Davis as a potential Northern Ireland star, Cass had picked him out as a midfielder to watch. 'That boy could be some player' was his accurate assessment prior to Davis even winning a cap.
Up until Alzheimer's he closely followed the Rangers midfielder's career yet had no recollection he had beaten his pal Jennings' all-time appearance record for Northern Ireland late last year.
Nor could Cass immediately recall who he managed in the League of Ireland until I mentioned Sligo Rovers.
Rosemary says Tommy's memory span is 'probably around five minutes' now. Returning to some of the above topics during our conversation Cass didn't remember we had been discussing them.
Alzheimer's, the most common cause of dementia, is a cruel disease.
It can be no coincidence that so many footballers have suffered from these illnesses. The sport needs to do something about it.
Bodies like the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), Football Association and in Northern Ireland the Irish FA have to step up and help in any way they can.
Tommy Cassidy and others like him surely deserve that.