Willie Irvine remembers 'father figure' Jimmy

Willie Irvine in his Northern Ireland days
Willie Irvine in his Northern Ireland days

Fellow County Antrim boy and another prolific forward for Burnley, Willie Irvine, paid tribute to ‘father figure’ Jimmy McIlroy who offered sage advice on and off the pitch.

Willie said: “I arrived in Burnley as a wide-eyed 16-year-old from County Antrim. There was a man called Jimmy McIlroy playing for Burnley at that time, and I had no idea then how much he would help me in my own career.

“I was a wee Irish boy who he looked after like a father figure. I actually babysat for him in Burnley a number of time and he would always give me good advice, along with a ckeeky sense of humour.

“When I first arrived at Turf Moor I would clean the kit of the first teamers. Jimmy would always ask how I had played in the youth teams and reserves. I remember Jimmy and Jimmy Adamson once gave me advice on how to shake off a marker.

“In fact, I sincerely believe my first international call-up to the senior Northern Ireland team was down to Jimmy putting in a good word for me.

“Legend is a word that’s over-used today but to me Jimmy was a true world legend.”