A host of big names from the world of football paid tribute to Blackpool’s Jimmy Armfield at a gala dinner last night.
The footballing legend was joined by 300 guests at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom as part of his 80th birthday celebrations.
A number of famous faces from Blackpool FC’s past turned out in tribute, including Cyril Robinson, Dave Hatton, Alan Taylor, Tommy Thompson, Tom White, Glyn James and Charlie Adam.
Armfield is one of the town’s most famous sons having spent his whole career at Bloomfield Road.
He played more than 600 times for the Seasiders, becoming England captain in the process before going onto manage Leeds United to European glory.
But after the event Armfield was as humble as ever.
“It has been a birthday to remember,” he said.
“I’m pleased to be here at 80, I’ve had a few hurdles to cross but thankfully I’m still here to tell the story.
“It was fantastic to see so many of my team-mates and supporters who travelled such a long distance, I can’t thank them enough.
“It was a memorable evening, a real honour.”
Off the field Armfield remains involved in a number of good causes, he’s chairman of the Lancashire Partnership against Crime, president of Age UK Blackpool, president of Trinity Hospice and was awarded a CBE in 2009.
Among the audience was chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association Gordon Taylor, with who Jimmy works as an adviser at their Manchester base.
He said: “It was a fantastic evening for a fantastic man.
“He’s a living legend and an icon of the game but more importantly an incredible guy.
“We at the PFA are lucky to have him involved, his knowledge is so important to us all.”
Taylor finished his speech by suggesting Armfield should follow a small group of footballing legends by being knighted.
He added: “We have the children of Sir Stanley Matthews and Sir Tom Finney in attendance and I don’t think many would argue if Jimmy was to join those greats.”
As well as former players, one of Blackpool’s modern day heroes was also there to pay tribute to Armfield.
Stoke City midfielder Charlie Adam, who captained the Seasiders to promotion in 2010, said: “Jimmy was always around to offer advice when I was at Blackpool.
“We were all aware of just how much he had achieved in the game and he has so much respect around not just the club but the whole town.
“I was honoured to be able to come and share his 80th birthday.”
The event was organised by lifelong Pool fan Chris Hull who refused to allow Armfield’s landmark birthday pass without a celebration.
He said: “Everyone in the town, and the world of football loves Jimmy and it was the least we could do.
“The response of the town has been incredible, you only have to look at how many people turned up.”
Blackpool Mayor Peter Callow opened the evening with a speech paying tribute to one of Blackpool’s favourite sons.
He said: “Jimmy is respected by everyone who comes into his path, he’s a real legend of the game.”
Billy Bentley, who played alongside Armfield at Bloomfield Road, added: “He was the good guy and I was the bad guy, it worked!
“I can’t speak highly enough of him.”