Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville will put on a performance Tommy would have been proud of, vows skipper Curran

The late Tommy Breslin
The late Tommy Breslin

By Alex Mills

Cliftonville skipper Chris Curran wants do his former boss proud in today's Danske Bank Premiership opener against Coleraine at the Ballycastle Road Showgrounds.

Tommy Breslin died suddenly while on holiday in Spain on Wednesday, which rocked the north Belfast club to its foundations.

Tributes have poured in for the man who became Cliftonville's most successful manager, leading them to back-to-back title wins. In fact, he pocketed a total of eight trophies in his four-year reign with the Reds.

Curran now wants the players to pay their own tribute by putting on a performance against the Bannsiders - one that Tommy would be proud of.

"The news of Tommy's passing came as a shock to everyone," he said. "Everyone at the club is hurting at the moment. Our thoughts are with Tommy's family and his loved ones.

"Tommy brought me to the club after the 2012-13 title win. I will always be grateful to him... I'm so lucky that he signed me because it has been brilliant for me ever since.

"My first game was against Celtic in the Champions League. He was such a bubbly character, he always had a smile on his face. It was infectious. He could change the atmosphere in a room very quickly.

"I always remember when we lost a game, he would be the one person the following night at training to lift everyone's spirits again, should it have been with a cheeky grin, a quick one-liner or an off-the-cuff remark.

"That was one of Tommy strengths. He was a players' manager... he was the type of person everyone wanted to play for... he was a pleasure to work with.

"Tommy was a true professional. I don't think he got the credit for how good a manager he actually was - he really knew the game and the players. Tommy knew how to recruit players and he knew how to develop them. He was an easy person to talk to and he had time for everyone.

"He'll be missed on and off the pitch."

Following the outpouring of grief by everyone at the club, Curran admits it's now important to focus on getting three points from today's game.

He adds: "We will try to do well for Tommy. It's important for the players to represent the club well and try to do Tommy proud.

"We've been in for a long time now, preparing for our Europa League commitments. We didn't have a lot a time to squeeze in a holiday because we were back in training again a few weeks after winning the Euro play-off against Glentoran.

"It's been a tough two-month period, but a really good one. We've had lots of good experiences in Europe and had trips to Wales and Norway.

"The European games have helped improve our match fitness. We are in good shape and all the lads are raring to go. After the news we've had this week, I think it should help spur us on."

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