Sunderland pay tribute to club legend Billy Bingham

Tributes have been paid to Sunderland club legend Billy Bingham.

Former Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham has died, his family has announced. He was 90.
Former Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham has died, his family has announced. He was 90.

Former Northern Ireland international and manager Bingham has died aged 90, his family announced on Friday.

Bingham, who had been diagnosed with dementia in 2006, twice guided Northern Ireland to the World Cup finals, first in 1982 when they famously beat hosts Spain, and again in 1986.

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Born in East Belfast, Bingham, an outside right, was capped 56 times. He came through the ranks of Glentoran before joining Sunderland in 1950 and going on to have spells with Luton, Everton, whom he later also managed, and Port Vale.

Sunderland AFC posted a tribute on Twitter: “All at Sunderland AFC are saddened to learn of the passing of club legend Billy Bingham. Our condolences are with Billy's family and friends. Rest in peace, Billy.”

He made over 200 appearances for Sunderland between 1950 and 1958.

In a statement, Bingham’s son David said: “Dad was diagnosed with dementia back in 2006 and I think it is a tribute to his will that he managed another 16 years from that diagnosis to the time he passed away.

“He passed away peacefully last night at 10.30pm in a care home in Southport.

“We are very proud of all our dad achieved.”

Bingham had been part of the Northern Ireland side which reached the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup, only to lose to France.

It was Bingham’s goal which secured Luton victory in the 1959 FA Cup semi-final over then Third Division Norwich to reach Wembley, where they lost to Nottingham Forest.

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He won the 1962–63 First Division title with Everton prior to moving into management, which included roles when he was also in charge of the Northern Ireland national team as well as a spell with Greece.

Bingham’s second stint as manager of his country began in 1980.

He went on to appoint future Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill as his captain, the first Catholic to have the honour bestowed on him during the Troubles, and received threatening letters as a result.

The 1980 British Championship success was Northern Ireland’s first in 66 years and was followed by a memorable World Cup campaign and a 1-0 victory over Spain at the Mestalla in Valencia.

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Bingham, made an MBE for services to football in 1981, left the Northern Ireland job in 1993 and later worked as director of football at Blackpool.

Everton said the club were “deeply saddened” to learn of Bingham’s death.

Returning to Goodison Park to succeed his former manager Harry Catterick in May 1973, Bingham’s side were edged out in the 1974-75 title race by Derby.

“The thoughts of everybody at Everton Football Club are with Billy’s family and friends,” a club statement read.

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Bingham scored 33 goals in 100 appearances for Luton.

In October 1960, with the Hatters then in the Second Division, Bingham joined Everton for a fee of £15,000.

A statement from Luton read: “Our thoughts are with Billy’s family and friends at this sad time,” it added.