Belfast Telegraph

Tommy Breslin took Cliftonville to a new level

Last waltz: Tommy Breslin oversees what turned out to be his final game as Cliftonville boss last Saturday, the 6-1 defeat at Ballymena
Last waltz: Tommy Breslin oversees what turned out to be his final game as Cliftonville boss last Saturday, the 6-1 defeat at Ballymena

By Stuart McKinley

Whoever said that nice guys don't win anything had obviously never met Tommy Breslin.

His resignation as Cliftonville manager has left everyone connected with the Reds stunned and the decision has also shocked the entire local game.

The most successful manager in the club's history and the only one to lead the Reds to back-to-back titles, the last thing that chairman Gerard Lawlor wanted to do was accept his resignation - especially when the Cliftonville squad remains highly talented and geared towards bringing more silverware to the club.

In the end though it was the respect he has for the man which told Lawlor that there was nothing else he could to.

Breslin - deflated after Saturday's 6-1 drubbing at Ballymena - has stepped down after a fabulous four and a half year reign, in which he won eight trophies and made history.

First-team coach Gerard Lyttle has been placed in temporary charge and will lead the team into Saturday's Premiership clash with Glentoran.

"It's not the success that he has brought to the club that made it very hard for me to accept Tommy Breslin's resignation," said Lawlor.

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"It's the way he conducts himself and the personality of the man. I have so much respect for him, we've been friends for 10 years and he is a fantastic person.

"It was hard to let go and extremely difficult to accept his resignation, but I had to respect him and not be selfish.

"He always put the club first. Even when I spoke to him over the last few days he was thinking of the club before himself and telling me that didn't feel he could give the dedication to the job that it needed.

"He has sacrificed so much for Cliftonville and it's time for him to take some of that time back."

Former Cliftonville chairman and Fifa vice-President Jim Boyce, who is now the Reds' club patron, paid his own tribute to Breslin - who he first saw as a player at Solitude during the 1980s.

"I am totally shocked by this," said Boyce.

"I personally hold Tommy Breslin in the highest possible esteem.

"The work that he has put into the job as manager of Cliftonville Football Club is phenomenal.

"I have supported the club since I was a boy and I never dreamed that we would have so much success.

"Tommy is one of the nicest, most decent people I have ever met, but he obviously thinks that he can't do any more to motivate the players, even though they are sitting third in the league after seven matches.

"I know I speak for many people when I say that he will always be welcome at Solitude and I wish him every success."

Lawlor will now undertake an unenviable task in trying to replace Breslin. His shoes are big ones to fill and the Reds will leave no stone unturned.

"Tommy Breslin will always be remembered at Cliftonville. Four and a half years ago when I asked him to take the job I couldn't have imagined the success that he would bring to the club," said Lawlor.

"He is a massive loss.

"I will do all in my power to ensure that he remains involved at Cliftonville, because no football club can afford to lose someone with his qualities."

Lawlor and Boyce aren't alone in how highly they think of Breslin. For four and a half years he has been one of the most popular figures in the local game, and Irish League football in general and Cliftonville in particular are both worse off without Tommy Breslin.

Belfast Telegraph


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