Belfast Telegraph

One of the good guys: Tributes to Cliftonville legend Tommy Breslin after sudden death

Tributes to 'one of the good guys' of local game

Tommy Breslin
Tommy Breslin
Tommy Breslin
Cliftonville celebrate their league success in 2013
Pictured is Cliftonville's George Mc Mullan and Tommy Breslin as they win the Wasp Solutions Cup Final at Windsor Park in Belfast. Saturday 24th January 2015. Photo: Kevin Scott
Supporters: Tommy Breslin with Linfield boss David Healy. Photo: Porter/PressEye.com
Glory days: Former Reds boss Tommy Breslin with Joe Gormley
Cliftonville captain George McMullan and boss Tommy Breslin raise the Wasp Solutions League Cup
Tommy Breslin and backroom team Peter Murray and Gerard Lyttle get a soaking from goalkeeper Conor Devlin
Cliftonville's Tommy Breslin as they win the Wasp Solutions Cup Final at Windsor Park in Belfast. January 24 2015. Picture: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Cliftonville Football Club has said it is devastated at the passing of former manager Tommy Breslin.

In a short statement on Wednesday evening, the club offered its sympathies saying it would pay a full tribute to the 58-year-old in time but its thoughts were with the Breslin family and friends.

Current Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughin offered his condolences to his family and friends. He described him as a "true Cliftonville and Irish League legend".

Club record goalscorer Joe Gormley said news of his death was "heartbreaking" saying he was one of the nicest people he ever met.

"Thank you for everything Tommy it will never be forgotten."

Breslin played midfield for the Red and as manager enjoyed unparalleled success at Solitude with consecutive league title wins in 2013 and 2014 before dramatically resigning in September 2015 citing work commitments. 

In four-and-a-half years he won eight trophies making him the north Belfast club's most successful boss in its 140-year history.

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As well as the Gibson Cup, he guided the club to three consecutive League Cup triumphs and two County Antrim Shield victories.

In the wake of a 6-1 defeat to Ballymena Breslin offered his resignation only for Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor to reject it telling him to sleep on it thinking it was a knee-jerk reaction.

Mr Lawlor said he spent the next three days trying to change the manager's mind ultimately without success.

Cliftonville celebrate their league success in 2013
Cliftonville celebrate their league success in 2013
Danske Bank Premiership, Cliftonville v Linfield. Celebration as Cliftonville win the Danske Bank Premiership

He later took temporary charge at Solitude in April 2017 after Gerard Lyttle's departure from the club.

He has been described as "one of the good guys of the local game".

Cliftonville supporters said he was a legend of the club.

"I cant believe this, was chatting to him just last month," said Mark Madden.

"Always be a Cliftonville legend."

Damian McCluskey added: "Awful. The tidiest of players, greatest manager and gentleman. Brought Reds our greatest days. Hero."

Christopher Bailie added: "He oversaw one of the happiest days of my life leading Cliftonville to back-to-back leagues. RIP Tommy B. Absolutely gutted."

Football fans from across Northern Ireland swarmed to social media to pay their respects and offer their condolences.

Jordan McKay said: "Horrible news. His Cliftonville side was one of the best the league has ever seen."

Cliftonville Manager Tommy Breslin at Cliftonville v Crusaders at Solitude on April 26 2014. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Cliftonville Manager Tommy Breslin at Cliftonville v Crusaders at Solitude on April 26 2014. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye

Colin Williams said: "Terrible news, always a gentleman, from a Blueman."

DUP leader Arlene Foster paid her respects.

"Such tragic news for local football. My thoughts and prayers are with Tommy’s family and all connected with Cliftonville FC," she tweeted.

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