Willie Irvine remembers 'father figure' Jimmy

Willie Irvine in his Northern Ireland days
Willie Irvine in his Northern Ireland days
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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.”