Burnley Football Club is greatly saddened to hear of the death of Jimmy McIlroy – widely regarded as the Clarets' finest ever player and president of the club.
McIlroy, who has died at the age of 86, made 497 appearances for the Clarets in a golden age for the club.
The Northern Irishman, who spent 13 years at Turf Moor, was an integral part of Burnley’s 1960-Championship winning team under legendary manager Harry Potts.
An inside-forward who wore the number eight and number 10 shirt in a period of outstanding service to the club, McIlroy scored 131 goals as the Clarets became one of the best teams in the country.
After signing from Glentoran in March, 1950, Lambeg-born McIlroy, made his Burnley debut under the management of Frank Hill in October, 1950 in a First Division game at Sunderland.
A wonderfully skilful and creative player, McIlroy went on to become a mainstay of the side that didn’t finish outside the top seven in the First Division between 1956 and 1963 – the year he left the club to join Stoke City in a move that devasted the club’s supporters.
Potts took over as manager in 1958 and with the inspirational McIlroy heading a team of talents, including club legends Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Alex Elder, Tommy Cummings, Brian Miller, Jimmy Adamson, John Connelly, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson and Brian Pilkington, Burnley were crowned league champions for only the second time in their history in 1960.
That earned Burnley a place in Europe, McIlroy starring as the Clarets reached the quarter-finals on the European Cup the following season.
And in 1962, McIlroy and his team-mates almost became only the second team to win ‘The Double’ – finishing second in the league to Ipswich Town and losing in the final of the FA Cup to holders and great rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who retained the trophy after winning league and cup 12 months earlier.
McIlroy was also one of Northern Ireland’s finest players, winning 55 caps and helping his country reach the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.
After ending his playing career with Oldham Athletic, McIlroy briefly managed the Latics and Bolton Wanderers.
But his home remained Burnley, where he lived for the rest of his life.
McIlroy, who has a stand named after him at Turf Moor, was given the freedom of the Borough of Burnley in 2008 and made an MBE in the New Year's Honours of 2011 for his services to football and charity.
He was inducted into the Northern Ireland Football Writers' Association Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Hall of Fame at England's National Football Museum in 2014.
The Clarets have lost a true club great and a part of their history, and the club’s thoughts are with his family and friends on this sad day.