Sam Allardyce has described the death of his former Bolton chairman Phil Gartside as “devastating news”.
Gartside passed away at the age of just 63 this week after losing a battle with cancer, just three months after stepping away from his duties with the Championship club.
In tandem with manager Allardyce, the pair enjoyed one of the most successful periods in Bolton’s history, with the Trotters spending 11 years in the Premier League and two campaigns in the UEFA Cup.
Allardyce’s relationship with Gartside was tense towards the end of their time at Bolton, but the Sunderland manager insists he will remember the high-points of their time together at the club.
“Our journey from 1999, when he first became chairman, was a journey that fulfilled our dreams together,” said Allardyce.
“It became one fantastic journey that we enjoyed together.
“It was sad to hear of the illness first, and then devastating news of how quickly he lost the fight.
“Of course, my condolences go out to Carol (Gartside’s wife) and the family.
“At 63, it’s no age at all, particularly with how fit he was doing.
“When I talked to him, he was riding his bike and doing 20 miles a day or so, and then all of a sudden he was struck by this illness and then two months later he lost the fight.
“Football is only a game in the end. I know it becomes part of your life and you can’t do without it, but when somebody has that illness, it’s nothing to do with football.
“But the journey we had will be remembered by me forever.
“Yes, we had our times when we didn’t agree, but I wouldn’t dwell on them whatsoever - just the memories we had of building a great club at that time, with some great players.
“It was an absolute honour and a privilege for me at that time.”