World Cup-winning Burnley legend John Connelly passes away
11:34am Thursday 25th October 2012 in Sport
ENGLAND World Cup medal winner and Clarets hero John Connelly died yesterday.
John, 74, played 265 games for the Clarets, scoring 104 goals and starred as Burnley clinched the Championship title in 1960.
He had been battling bone cancer and died peacefully yesterday morning at his home in Barrowford.
He is survived by wife Sandra and his two daughters and a son.
Tributes have poured in from former teammates and supporters in memory of one of the club's favourite sons.
Jimmy Mcllroy said John was 'good enough to play for any team in the world.'
He said: “It’s a terrible shock. John was such a lovely fellow, always ready with a joke, an extremely popular and humble man.
“In that special Burnley team we worked together because we were both wingers and he was on the opposite flank.
“It was a privilege to play alongside him, I watched him closely and he was as talented as it got. I used to tell him he was good enough to play for any team in the world.”
John was also a member of England's 1966 squad for which he was belatedly given a winners’ medal in 2007.
He went on to play for Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers and Bury and won 20 caps for England, including the opening game against Uruguay in the successful World Cup campaign.
But he was denied the chance to play in the final by England boss Sir Alf Ramsey who dropped him from the squad when he adopted the ‘Wingless Wonders’ system.
After his retirement from the game, he continued to live in the area and ran Connelly’s Plaice, a fish and chip shop in Brierfield for many years.
BBC radio and TV presenter and former Lancashire Telegraph reporter Tony Livesey, who grew up in the Briefield area, said: "Only in Burnley could such a footballing legend run a chippy.
“He was a lovely man and for us Clarets-mad boys the chip shop became a place of pilgrimage.”
John arrived at Turf Moor from hometown club St Helens Town in November, 1956.
He had to wait for his first-team chance but by the 1958/59 season had become a regular under Harry Potts.
The following season he played a key role in the Clarets’ Championship triumph, scoring 20 times in tandem with Ray Pointer and Jimmy Robson, who produced a combined goal tally of 85.
Mr Robson said: “We both married Burnley girls and went on family holidays together and out on a Saturday night on a regular basis.
“He was a popular man in the area, first of all for being a footballer but also his fish and chip business.
“He was a member of Nelson Golf Club and was also a JP.
“He was delighted to get his World Cup medal. He should have had it in any case because he played in the first game.
“John was a good footballer. A bit of a full back’s nightmare because he could go inside or outside and he was quick and had two good feet.”
Peter Pike, from the Clarets Supporters’ Trust, said: “John played in a different football era and in today’s football world he would have been a multi-million pound player.
“Having met him very many times over the years I could always regard him as a friend and while he had been a great player he always remained a genuinely modest and nice man.”
Former team mate Andy Lochhead said: “He was a quality player. He had a lot of ability and a lot of skill.
“As a wide man he provided good crosses into the box.
“He was a terrific fellow - a very sociable chap and a good mixer.”
Former Prime Minister’s spokesman Alistair Campbell said his love of the Clarets had been formed a young boy 'watching legends like John Connelly'.
He added: “I got to know him later at club a events and he was a lovely, warm gentleman who was a down to earth as they come.
“It was always a real treat to visit his chip shop after a game too.”
After leaving Burnley in the summer of 1964 and with George Best on the opposite wing, Connelly helped Matt Busby’s Manchester Utd side win the title in 1965 as he added another title medal to his collection.
Following the 1966 triumph, John moved to Ewood Park and gave four years of service to Rovers before ending his career with a three-year spell at Bury.
A spokesman from Burnley FC said: “Burnley Football Club is saddened to hear of the death of club great John Connelly at the age of 74.
"The flag at Turf Moor will fly at half mast as a mark of respect to one of the Clarets’ favourite sons and Burnley's players will wear black arm bands in their Championship game at Cardiff City on Saturday.”