Tommy Burns (footballer)

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Tommy Burns
Personal information
Full name Thomas Burns
Date of birth (1956-12-16)16 December 1956
Place of birth Glasgow, Scotland
Date of death 15 May 2008(2008-05-15) (aged 51)
Place of death Glasgow, Scotland
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
1970 Eastercraigs Boys Club
1970–1973 Celtic Boys Club
1973–1975 Celtic
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1975–1989 Celtic 353 (52)
1973–1974 Maryhill
1989–1994 Kilmarnock 151 (16)
Total 504 (68)
National team
1976–1982 Scotland U21 5 (0)
1978 Scottish League XI[1] 1 (0)
1981–1988 Scotland 8 (0)
Teams managed
1992–1994 Kilmarnock
1994–1997 Celtic
1998–1999 Reading
2004 Scotland (caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Thomas Burns (16 December 1956 – 15 May 2008) was a Scottish professional footballer who played as a midfielder, and was later a manager. He was also a Scotland international, winning eight caps between 1981 and 1988 while playing for Celtic. He died of melanoma on 15 May 2008, aged 51.

Early life

Tommy Burns was born in the Calton area of Glasgow,[2] where he was brought up with his two sisters. He was educated at St Mary's Roman Catholic School and at St Mungo's Academy.[3]

Playing career

Celtic

Burns grew up supporting Celtic and began playing football with the local Boys Guild football team. He went on to play for Eastercraigs Boys' Club and then Celtic Boys Club. After receiving offers to go to England to play professionally, he signed for Celtic in 1973. Burns was then farmed out to Maryhill Juniors in order to gain experience.[3]

He made his debut against Dundee United on 19 April 1975 under manager Jock Stein,[4] and by the end of the 1976–77 (which ended with Celtic as champions) had become a regular in the team. His best personal output was in 1983–84 with 13 goals from 55 appearances in all competitions, although Celtic finished as runners-up to Aberdeen in both the League and the Scottish Cup, and lost the League Cup final to Rangers.

Burns was a vital part of the side managed by Billy McNeill which won the league and cup double in 1987–88, the club's centenary season,[5] participating in 37 matches in the campaign. In total, he made 353 league appearances for Celtic over 15 years and scored 52 goals, won six Scottish League titles and four Scottish Cups. In December 1989, just prior to his 33rd birthday, he received a testimonial match against Ajax in which he threw his boots to the crowd at Celtic Park.[2] The club would later officially describe him as "a true Celtic legend"[5] while the player himself stated that he was merely "a supporter who got lucky".[2]

Kilmarnock

Immediately following his testimonial, Burns moved to third-tier Kilmarnock[4] for a fee of £50,000,[5] and in his first season in Ayrshire helped the club achieve promotion. In 1990–91 Killie consolidated their status in the division with Burns playing a pivotal role (37 appearances, all as a starter, with 8 goals).

Management and coaching

Kilmarnock

Burns became player-manager of Kilmarnock in April 1992, replacing Jim Fleeting for the final few games of the season. In 1992–93, his first full campaign in charge, the Rugby Park club won promotion to the Scottish Premier Division[5] after a ten-year absence, with Burns also playing in 39 league fixtures during the season. He then featured in a dozen top-flight matches to help Kilmarnock avoid relegation, with his penultimate career appearance at the age of 37 being a 1–0 home win over Rangers which was also the last match prior to the stadium's redevelopment.[6]

Celtic

Burns moved to become manager of Celtic (replacing Lou Macari) at the start of the 1994–95 season in acrimonious circumstances, as he was still under contract to Kilmarnock as both player and manager. Kilmarnock refused to release him from his contract[7] and the Scottish Football Association subsequently fined Celtic £100,000 for 'tapping', or speaking to Burns without obtaining Kilmarnock's permission. Kilmarnock were also permitted to retain his playing registration, effectively ending his professional career as a player.

At Celtic, his team grew a reputation for playing attractive and attacking football and they won the Scottish Cup in 1995;[8][9] but Celtic proved unable to break the domination of Old Firm rivals Rangers. Burns signed players like Pierre Van Hooijdonk, Paolo Di Canio and Jorge Cadete, and while the Celtic team lost just one game in the league during the 1995–96 season, they were unable to beat the Rangers team managed by Walter Smith.[4] Burns commented that "Andy Goram [the Rangers goalkeeper] broke my heart" would be on his tombstone.[10] After losing a Scottish Cup semi-final to Falkirk in 1997, Burns was sacked from Celtic by chairman Fergus McCann[4] and went on to work under former Celtic colleague Kenny Dalglish at Newcastle United as a coach.

Reading

On 25 March 1998, Burns was appointed manager of Reading, who were struggling in Division One in what was their final season at Elm Park before the relocation to Madejski Stadium and would eventually finish in last place. He had been approached about the Reading manager's job the previous summer, but rejected it in favour of a coaching role under Dalglish.[11]

He remained in this position until 16 September 1999, when he was dismissed following a poor sequence of results, after Reading's failure to win promotion from Division Two the previous year.[12] He left an impression on some of the club's personnel, including future club captain Graeme Murty[13] and youth coach Brendan Rodgers who would later also manage Celtic.[14]

Celtic and Scotland

The following year, Burns returned to Celtic as assistant manager during Kenny Dalglish's short-lived tenure as manager. That summer, Martin O'Neill took over as the club's manager and brought in his own coaching staff, but retained Burns and placed him in charge of youth development. Upon the arrival of Gordon Strachan as manager in 2005, Burns was appointed First Team Coach, a role he combined with his Youth Development post. He is credited with guiding several young players who would become internationals, including Shaun Maloney Stephen McManus, Aiden McGeady and John Kennedy and for his input into the design of the club's Lennoxtown training centre which opened in 2007.[4][2]

He became assistant manager of the Scottish national team under Berti Vogts in 2002 and retained the position under Walter Smith.[4] In between, he managed Scotland for one match, a 4–1 friendly defeat to Sweden.[15]

On 18 January 2007, Burns announced through the Celtic website that he was severing all ties with the Scottish national team to concentrate on his role at the club. It was reported by The Scotsman newspaper that Burns had found out that he was not a potential candidate for the job of national team coach, which had become available after Walter Smith moved to Rangers.[16]

Illness and death

On 29 March 2006, Celtic confirmed Burns had begun treatment for melanoma skin cancer.[17] On 10 March 2008, Celtic announced that Burns was facing another skin cancer scare, and would be undergoing further treatment for the disease.[18] On 15 May 2008, Burns died at home.[19][5]

His funeral mass was celebrated at St Mary's, Abercromby Street (the church in whose hall was held the inaugural meeting of what was to become Celtic FC) in his native Calton on 20 May 2008 followed by interment at Linn Cemetery, Castlemilk.

Tributes

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan was among those who paid tribute to Burns. A visibly emotional Strachan said "being Tommy's mate was the best part of joining Celtic" and that "There weren't many better than him as a footballer. But, as a person, he was top of the league when it comes to being a man."[20] Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said "If you define a Celtic man, it would certainly be Tommy Burns. He was a wonderful human being."[20] Club captain Stephen McManus said "He was courageous and he was probably as brave a man as you'll ever meet."[20]

Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist, who had worked with Burns in his role for the Scotland national team, said "I have met a lot of good people through football but Tam was the very best."[21] On 16 May, Rangers manager Walter Smith and McCoist arrived at Celtic Park to lay a wreath in memory of Burns, and then spent half an hour in the stadium, speaking with Celtic officials, then another half-hour outside speaking to fans. Smith and McCoist also served as pallbearers at Burns' funeral.[22]

Stadium memorial

In 2010, a bronze relief memorial plaque for Burns was unveiled at the main stand of Celtic Park, depicting his trademark 'clasped hands' goal celebration as a player, lifting the Scottish Cup as manager and working as a youth coach, also referencing his local church.[23]

Burns supper

Celtic holds an annual charity dinner event, the 'Tommy Burns Supper' (a parody of the traditional [Robert] Burns supper)[24] in collaboration with a supporters' club linked to Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh who originally conceived the event; from its inception in 1987 it became increasingly popular and was attended regularly by Burns as well as celebrities from the spheres of sports and entertainment.[25]


Career statistics

Club Division Season League Cup League Cup Other[N 1] Total
App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals
Celtic[26] Scottish Division One 1974–75 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Scottish Premier Division 1975–76 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
1976–77 19 1 3 0 6 0 1[N 2] 0 29 1
1977–78 25 3 3 1 6 1 3[N 3] 1[N 3] 37 6
1978–79 29 3 3 1 8 0 0 0 40 4
1979–80 14 0 2 0 0 0 3[N 4] 1[N 4] 19 1
1980–81 33 4 5 2 7 5 3[N 5] 0 48 11
1981–82 33 9 2 0 6 0 2[N 6] 0 43 9
1982–83 17 7 1 0 8 3 2[N 7] 0 28 10
1983–84 33 9 5 3 11 0 6[N 8] 1[N 8] 55 13
1984–85 27 7 6 1 3 1 4[N 9] 1[N 9] 40 10
1985–86 34 5 3 0 3 1 2[N 10] 0 42 6
1986–87 16 0 0 0 3 0 3[N 11] 0 22 0
1987–88 27 2 5 1 3 1 2[N 12] 0 37 4
1988–89 32 2 5 3 3 2 3[N 13] 0 43 7
1989–90 8 0 0 0 3 1 1[N 14] 0 12 1
Total 353 52 43 12 70 15 35 4 501 83
Kilmarnock[27] Scottish Second Division 1989–90 22 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 24 3
Scottish First Division 1990–91 37 8 2 1 2 0 4[N 15] 1[N 15] 45 10
1991–92 41 3 2 0 1 0 1[N 16] 0 45 3
1992–93 39 2 3 0 3 2 2[N 17] 1[N 17] 47 5
Scottish Premier Division 1993–94 12 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 13 0
Total 151 16 10 1 6 2 7 2 174 21
Career total 504 68 53 13 76 17 42 6 675 104
Notes

Managerial statistics

As of 27 November 2013
Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Kilmarnock[45][N 1] Scotland April 1992 July 1994 109 46 31 32 042.20
Celtic[46] Scotland July 1994 May 1997 140 78 39 23 055.71
Reading[47] England March 1998 September 1999 68 20 18 30 029.41
Total 317 144 88 85 045.43
Notes
  1. ^ Matches in Ayrshire Cup included in source have been omitted

Playing honours

Celtic

Notes
  1. ^ Did not play in 1977 Scottish Cup Final

Kilmarnock

Managerial honours

Kilmarnock

Celtic

References

  1. ^ "Tommy Burns". Londonhearts.com. London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Tommy Burns: The supporter who got lucky". Celtic F.C. 15 May 2017. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Bradley, Joseph. "Burns, Thomas [Tommy] (1956–2008), footballer and football manager". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 30 January 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Tommy Burns: Popular player, manager and coach unswerving in his devotion to Celtic Football Club". The Independent. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Celtic's Burns loses cancer fight". BBC Sport. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  6. ^ "07-05-1994 Kilmarnock 1 Rangers 0". KillieFC. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  7. ^ "Football: Anger as Celtic appoint Burns: Kilmarnock demand compensation for loss of manager". The Independent. 12 July 1994. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  8. ^ Reid, Harry (2005), The Final Whistle", Birlinn, 182, ISBN 1-84158-362-6
  9. ^ "Celtic's compensation". The Independent. 27 May 1995. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  10. ^ "Andy Goram profile". When Saturday Comes. January 2004. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Nixon, Alan (13 June 1997). "Doubts over the future of Kinnear". The Independent. London. 
  12. ^ "Tommy Burns manager history". Soccerbase. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  13. ^ "Murty: Tommy Burns left an impression on me at Reading FC". Reading FC Former Players Association. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  14. ^ "Brendan Rodgers: My debt to Celtic legend Tommy Burns". The Scotsman. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  15. ^ "Scotland 1–4 Sweden". BBC Sport. 17 November 2004. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  16. ^ Burns quits national set-up, The Scotsman Archived 22 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Burns undergoes cancer treatment". BBC. 29 March 2006. 
  18. ^ "Burns facing fresh cancer battle". BBC. 10 March 2008. 
  19. ^ "Celtic's Burns succumbs to cancer". BBC Sport. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  20. ^ a b c "Strachan leads tributes to Burns". BBC Sport. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2008. 
  21. ^ "Ally McCoist: Celtic's Tommy Burns was the best person I've ever met.". 16 May 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2008. 
  22. ^ Thousands bid farewell to Burns, BBC News.
  23. ^ "Celtic unveil Tommy Burns plaque". BBC Sport. 27 March 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  24. ^ "Success of Tommy Burns Supper at Celtic Park". Celtic F.C. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  25. ^ "Supporters club always had a laugh with Tommy at Burns Supper with a difference". The Scotsman. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  26. ^ "Celtic player Tommy Burns profile". Fitbastats. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  27. ^ "Kilmarnock player Tommy Burns profile". Fitbastats. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  28. ^ "Kilmarnock manager Tommy Burns profile". Fitbastats. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  29. ^ "Celtic manager Tommy Burns profile". Fitbastats. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  30. ^ "Reading FC manager statistics". Managerstats. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 

External links

  • Scotland career profile at www.londonhearts.com
  • Tommy Burns at the Scottish Football Association
  • Final tribute to be held for Celtic legend Tommy Burns
  • Tommy’s life had a triumvirate of values
  • The Celtic Wiki - Tommy Burns


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