Former Blackpool players have paid touching tribute to club legend Jimmy Armfield following his death today, aged 82,
Charlie Adam, skipper of the side which won promotion via the play-offs in 2010, said: “It’s a sad day for everyone involved with Blackpool FC, the town of Blackpool and the whole of football in general.
“I got to know Jimmy during my time there and he was Mr Blackpool as far as I was concerned.
“He’d always be popping up at the training ground in that long Umbro manager’s coat he used to wear and offering advice and words of support to the players.
“Jimmy was the sort of guy you’d stop and listen to, his opinions and advice were always spot on.
“He had an incredible career for Blackpool and captaining England and was a legend of the game, I also thought his commentary was as good as anyone on the radio.
“I was lucky to go to 80th birthday party a couple of years ago and there were hundreds of people from the world of football there that night - that showed just how popular he was.
“I will always remember how happy he was when we got his team to the Premier League in 2010 - it meant the world to him and there’s a great picture of Jimmy with me, Brett Ormerod, Gary Taylor-Flether and Ian Holloway which always makes me smile.
“My thoughts are with his wife Anne and all his family at this time. He’ll be missed.
Brett Ormerod, whose winner at Wembley clinched promotion, said: “Jimmy was Blackpool through and through and always so very approachable.
“I got to know him very well when he came into the gym when I was recovering from a broken leg and I used to really look forward to seeing him every day.
“His advice was invaluable - he was really good at putting things into perspective and I will miss him.”
Team-mate Gary Taylor-Fletcher, said: “Jimmy was a true gentleman who always had a smile on his face and had time for everyone. He was a genuine football man and I could listen to him talk about the game for hours.
“You could always tell the love the fans had for him – that was clear to see even at the town hall after we won promotion. He will be sorely missed.”
Defender Ian Evatt added: “He was a wonderful man – a massive ambassador for the club who was always available to talk to and offer advice.
“We had an amazing time at Blackpool and no-one appreciated the success of that era more than Jimmy, who made sure we knew and appreciated just how special it was.
“It’s a really sad day and my condolences to his family.”
Tony Green, who played for Blackpool between 1966 and 1971, said: “He’s 11 years older than me so when I first came in he was really nice to me off the field.
“It was a really good club at the time with a lot of the older lads like Jimmy, Ray Charnley and Tommy Wright.
“They were all really good with the younger lads but Jimmy especially.
“In terms of playing, he was a fabulous player. He had chances to go and I think he could have gone to any club in the country, but he chose to stay at Blackpool.
“I remember him telling me he could have gone to Spurs when he was 29 and they had just won the FA Cup.
“I remember thinking at the time: Jimmy you could have played in the cup final which was massive back then.
“But he was quite content in Blackpool and didn’t want to move the family.
“We always kept in touch and we were always good friends, so it was very sad to hear the news.
“There was no malice in Jimmy, he was just a nice bloke.
“The main memory I’ve got is when I first signed, I was walking down near the Tower and he introduced me to Alan Ball and I was just gobsmacked.
“He saw me and just called me over. He was always like that, always nice. He didn’t want all the limelight himself.”
Colin Greenall, who made 183 appearances for the Seasiders between 1980 and 1986, said: “When I first went to Blackpool as an apprentice at 16 years of age, Jimmy used to come down to the training ground on his bike.
“He’d come round, walk round and chat to the lads after watching us train.
“Being a young player back then you didn’t really realise who Jimmy was and what he had done. It’s only when you leave the club and realise ‘flipping heck, he’s done all that’.
“Now I know loads of people who don’t know him that well but have been to the events where he would always come over and talk to them about football.
“He just loved talking about it and he was so approachable he was brilliant.
“I don’t think anyone will have a bad word to say about him. He was such a nice man.
“He was an ambassador for the game, not just for Blackpool. He was at the PFA, on BBC Radio 5Live and everywhere in football.
“He was a proper ambassador and a gentleman of the game.
“I know his family and they’re exactly the same as Jimmy was. I know they’ll be proud as punch. They’re a lovely family.
“I met him at a few events and he would always come over to speak to me and my family. Not every football person will do that.
“I knew he was poorly but it’s just so sad for his family and everyone concerned with him. I was speechless at the time, I must admit.”
Eamonn O’Keefe, who played up front for Pool in the 1980s, said: “Jimmy was a real gentleman, with no airs and graces about him at all. He used to come in and see us in training and he was just one of the lads, which really impressed us considering what he had achieved in the game.”
Ex-midfielder John Deary added: “I have really fond memories of when I was an apprentice at the club and Jimmy used to come in and see us and offer advice. He was such a nice guy and always had time to help us.”
John Cross, of the Blackpool Former Players Association, said: “Jimmy was an absolute legend - there will never be anyone like him again.
“He wasn’t born in Blackpool but he loved the town and everything about it – more sandgrown than most sandgrown ‘uns - and no respected for all his wonderful charity work for so many organisations.
“He was a great champion of the Former Players’ Association and when he was at Bloomfield Road always used to come along and check what formers players were at that particular game.”