Celtic FC legend dies aged 51

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The Independent Football

The Celtic legend Tommy Burns has died after a battle with cancer, the club said today.

It was announced last month that Burns, 51, who was first diagnosed with skin cancer in 2006, was facing a new battle against the disease.

Former Scotland international Burns was an ex-manager of Celtic and had been a long-serving player with the Glasgow club.

He was also assistant to former Scotland managers Berti Vogts and Walter Smith.

In a statement the club said: "It is with great sadness that Celtic Football Club confirmed this morning that Tommy Burns has passed away.

"Tommy, a true Celtic legend and wonderful man will be sadly missed by us all. "Clearly, our thoughts are very much with Tommy's wife Rosemary and his family at this extremely difficult time."

The club said he died this morning at home.

Glasgow-born Burns spent the bulk of his career at Celtic, joining the club as a teenage player before leaving in 1989, aged 32, to join Kilmarnock where he later became the club's player-manager.

Burns returned to Celtic in 1994 as Lou Macari's successor in the manager's seat.

He was sacked in 1997 and later had an 18-month spell as manager of Reading.

His next job was with the Celtic youth academy and in 2002 he also took on a part-time role with Scotland under Vogts.

He remained in the role as assistant to Walter Smith, who was appointed after the German's unsuccessful time in charge was ended.

Scottish football rallied around the coach during Burns' first cancer scare, which kept him out of the game for part of a championship-winning season at Celtic.

He underwent surgery to remove two lumps from his leg in May 2006, before returning to the Celtic dug-out.

At the time, Burns talked of the possibility of the cancer returning.

He also expressed the hope that his case might make people take action against the growing problem of skin cancer.

Burns said at the time: "Men in general don't really examine their bodies, their moles and marks, especially in the west of Scotland - not that we get that much sun anyway."

Councillor Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "Scotland has lost one of its greatest footballing legends and one of its most decent and genuine men.

"One of my earliest memories of going to Celtic Park was of seeing Celtic greats like Tommy Burns.

"His brave battle against cancer over the years and his deep Christian faith has also been a deep inspiration to thousands.

"Tommy was unusual in that he crossed the footballing divide and was liked and respected by all football fans not just here in Glasgow but throughout Scotland and beyond.

"It's true when they say that only the good die young.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this terribly sad time."