Harford loses long fight against cancer

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The Independent Football

The former Blackburn Rovers manager Ray Harford died yesterday, aged 58, following a long battle against cancer. Harford, one of the finest coaches of his generation, helped Kenny Dalglish lift the Premiership title at Blackburn in 1995 before becoming manager himself.

Millwall, Harford's employers since 1999, said in a statement on their website: "It is with deep sadness that Millwall Football Club announce the death of coach Ray Harford, who passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning. Ray had been fighting a lengthy battle against cancer and his passing will be a great loss to football."

The Millwall chair-man, Theo Paphitis, said: "We are all devastated by this news, even though we knew Ray was very ill. [The manager] Mark McGhee and I visited him on Tuesday, and I'm only grateful we had the opportunity to assure him just how much we valued, loved and appreciated him at Millwall. He was a fine coach and a lovely man. We will miss him greatly."

A minute's silence was observed at yesterday's First Division match with Wigan.

In the late Eighties, Harford managed Luton Town during their most successful era - in 1988 they finished ninth in the First Division, and won the League Cup. A centre-half, Harford played for Charlton and Lincoln among other clubs, while he also managed QPR, Wimbledon and West Bromwich Albion.