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Former Northern Ireland assistant Martin Harvey passes away aged 78

Martin Harvey (second from right) has passed away aged 78. Here he is pictured with Northern Ireland team-mates George Best (left), Willie McFaul (second from left), and Eric McMordie (right) in Moscow.
Martin Harvey (second from right) has passed away aged 78. Here he is pictured with Northern Ireland team-mates George Best (left), Willie McFaul (second from left), and Eric McMordie (right) in Moscow.

Former Northern Ireland footballer and assistant manager Martin Harvey has passed away at the age of 78.

Harvey will be best remembered as the assistant manager to Billy Bingham during Northern Ireland's appearances at the 1982 and 1986 World Cup finals.

The Belfast man also made 34 appearances for his country as an exciting wing half, scoring three goals in a ten-year period between 1961 and 1971.

While he never made it big as a manager, Harvey was a very capable assistant manager, as reflected in two World Cup appearances and a hugely successful spell under Jimmy Nicholl at Raith Rovers.

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Martin Harvey in training with Norman Whiteside at Spain 1982.

As a player, the defender joined Sunderland in 1959 and went on to make 314 appearances for the club, and was generally regarded as one of the greatest defenders the club ever had.

Alongside Jimmy Montgomery, Cecil Irwin, Len Ashurst, Charlie Hurley and Jim McNab, he helped form a defensive corps considered the best in Sunderland's history.

Hailing from Boyland FC in Belfast, the club which also produced George Best, Harvey would end his career as a one-club man having retired as a Sunderland player in 1972 due to injuries at the age of just 30.

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Northern Ireland great Peter Doherty makes a point to Martin Harvey and Fay Coyle, from Derry

However, his association with the club continued as he took up a coaching role shortly after, while he was also granted a testimonial match against Newcastle United in April 1975.

In February 1980, Harvey was promoted from assistant to caretaker manager at Carlisle United to replace Bobby Moncur, and led them to sixth place while in temporary charge, earning his first permanent job.

But his tenure with the club lasted just six games into the new season when he was sacked, and he decided to follow Moncur to Plymouth Argyle as his assistant once more.

That led to recognition at national level, with Bingham asking Harvey to come on board with Northern Ireland as assistant manager in 1982, which yielded a trip to the '82 World Cup finals in Spain.

Harvey got two chances to take over at Plymouth, however was passed over both times, before his second spell with Northern Ireland at Mexico '86.

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Three Northern Ireland internationals at Sunderland in 1964, Martin Harvey (left), John Crossan and John Parke. 12/11/1964

That was followed by another four-year stay as a coach at Home Park with the Argyle before he had arguably his most successful spell as an assistant manager with Raith Rovers.

As an assistant to Jimmy Nicholl, Harvey won the old Scottish First Division - now the Championship - twice in 1993 and 1995, gaining promotion to the Premiership, and the League Cup in 1994.

After retiring from managerial roles following a short spell with Millwall, Harvey settled in Devon, where he lived until his death on Sunday evening.

His former sides paid tribute to him on social media, with Sunderland posting: "We're deeply saddened by the passing of former #SAFC player Martin Harvey at the age of 78. The thoughts of everybody at #SAFC are with Martin’s family and friends at this sad time. Rest in peace, Martin."

Carlisle posted: "Our thoughts are with the family, friends & loved ones of former Blues boss Martin Harvey on receiving the news that he has passed away. Martin was with us under Bobby Moncur, and then took the reins when he departed early in February 1980, saving us from relegation. RIP Martin."

Plymouth Argyle posted a heartfelt statement on their website to the Northern Irishman, which can be read here.

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