West Ham legends pay tribute to John Lyall, their greatest manager and a lasting influence

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The Independent Football

Alan Pardew yesterday led the tributes to the former West Ham manager John Lyall, who died suddenly on Tuesday night.

Lyall, who suffered a heart attack, attended the funeral of Ron Greenwood, his mentor and close friend, only two months ago. The pair were responsible for taking the Hammers into the modern era by creating what became known as "the Academy" in the 1970s and 80s at Upton Park. Lyall, who was 66, also went on to manage Ipswich.

"On behalf of all my staff and players, I first of all wish to pass on my sincere condolences to John's wife, Yvonne, his son Murray, his grandchildren and the rest of his family," Pardew said. "It is another very sad day for West Ham United after the loss of Ron Greenwood just two months ago and, like Ron, John did so much to build the footballing beliefs and values that this club is built on.

"To win the FA Cup twice and lead the club to its highest-ever League finish tells you just how much of an impact John Lyall made on the history of West Ham United, and his contribution will never be forgotten. I am sure that our supporters will pay tribute to John's memory in a fitting manner at our FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park on Sunday and we as a team will do the same."

Lyall won the FA Cup in 1975 while Greenwood was still general manager, then again in 1980. Trevor Brooking, who scored the winner against Arsenal in the 1980 final, said: "It's a huge shock. He was a much-loved figure at Upton Park and had a lasting influence on the club's development and the way the team played. Like Ron Greenwood before him, he encouraged good, open attacking football and all West Ham fans will be deeply shocked by today's news. He was a man of great integrity and loyalty and anyone who knew him would have nothing but good things to say about him.

"He recently attended a players' reunion and was easily the most popular man that evening. Everyone wanted to talk to him. I think everyone in football will feel a sense of loss today and our thoughts at the moment are with his wife and family."

Tony Gale, who was signed by Lyall for West Ham in 1984, last saw his former manager at a recent reunion for the 1975 and 1980 FA Cup-winning teams.

"I'm so pleased we did that because all the players got to see him again," Gale said. "He was a man of morals and principles."

The former Hammers defender Billy Bonds was struck by Lyall's loyalty, saying: "He was a brilliant coach, a totally honest man and you could trust everything he said. After finishing playing because of injury, he turned himself into one of the greatest coaches of any era. He was the most successful manager of the club but above all he was a very honest man and a family man. You wouldn't hear a bad word said about him by anyone in football."

Lyall was sacked at West Ham in 1989 after the club were relegated from the top flight. He then spent four years at Ipswich before retiring from football, and the former Ipswich manager Sir Bobby Robson said: "He was a proper person and a proper football coach. He was respected by players and loved the game, wanting it to be played in the way the public wanted. He was a disciplinarian, but that was more through his attitude towards the game."

West Ham will face Middlesbrough in an FA Cup semi-final at the weekend, and Sir Bobby added: "Maybe it's an extra spur for players to go out and represent John Lyall and give the fans the result they want."

Life of a West Ham legend

* February 1940 John Lyall is born in Ilford

* 1957 Signs professional forms with West Ham after working on the office staff

* 1971 Appointed assistant manager to Ron Greenwood after playing career was cut short by injury

* 1974 Team manager under Greenwood

* 1975 West Ham beat Fulham in FA Cup final

* 1976 West Ham lose the European Cup-Winners' Cup final to Anderlecht

* 1977 Takes sole charge at West Ham, who are relegated the next year

* 1980 West Ham beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final

* 1981 Second Division champions

* 1986 The Hammers achieve their highest League finish of third

* 1989 West Ham are relegated, Lyall is sacked

* 1990 Appointed Ipswich Town manager

* 1992 Ipswich win the Second Division title

* 1994 Lyall retires from football

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