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Minto: Tommy was a gentleman

Peter Murray says Tommy Breslin’s kindness endeared him to people and that his belief in Cliftonville’s title-winning potential was what persuaded him to sign up as his Assistant Manager.

Between them, the duo – who had previously formed two-thirds of the Reds’ exalted ‘Holy Trinity’ of midfield talents alongside Jim McFadden – delivered two Danske Bank Premiership crowns, three League Cup honours and a brace of County Antrim Shields in just four-and-a-half glorious years, during which time ‘Minto’ saw Breslin’s legendary man management skills at close quarters.

“Many people are called a gentleman, but Tommy was everything that word means, he was a gentle man – never spoke a bad word about any one,” says Murray.

“His humour with his dry wit was legendary and he won people over with his kindness.”

Reflecting on the pair’s playing days in the heart of the Cliftonville line-up, he adds: “Tommy, myself and Jim McFadden were tight-knit both on and off the pitch and we had a great bond.

“He had so many tricks on the football pitch that went unnoticed. I remember a game he played in at Windsor, when he left three Linfield players running in the wrong direction as he went forward on goal.

“When he asked me to join him in managing the Reds, he told me that the players were there that would win a League. He was convinced of that and convinced me. He was right – as always!

“I love the man.”

It will come as no surprise to learn that, since the tragic news of Tommy’s passing came to light, there has been an outpouring of tributes on social media, with supporters, players and officials from across the Irish football spectrum paying their respects to the greatest and most successful Manager in the history of Ireland’s Oldest Football Club.

Here, reproduces just a handful of quotes from Reds representatives past and present, whose heartfelt words echo the devastation felt by everyone at Solitude as well as reflecting the personable nature for which Tommy is so renowned.

“Deepest condolences to the family and friends of Tommy Breslin, a true Cliftonville and Irish League legend.”
Paddy McLaughlin

“I can’t put into words the impact that this man had on my life. He changed everything for me. He was like your Manager, your da, your best friend all rolled into one. For as long as I play, I’ll play for him.”
Chris Curran

“Absolutely heartbreaking. One of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Thank you for everything Tommy, it will never be forgotten.”
Joe Gormley

“One of the nicest men I’ve ever known. The say God only takes the best young and he was that. RIP my friend, my gaffer. Forever in my thoughts.”
Gerard Lyttle

“I am totally devastated. Tommy was one of life’s gentlemen, totally respected by everyone who was privileged to know him. My deepesy sympathy goes to Valerie and the entire family circle.”
Jim Boyce

“A nicer man you’ll never have met, a football man, a friend, a legend. He was the leader of our ship and what an adventure he led us on. Best Manager there will ever be with memories that will last forever, truly devastated.”
Ryan Catney

“Absolutely devastated to hear the news of Tommy Breslin. One of the most universally liked men in Irish League football. Still can’t believe it. Thanks for the memories, boss.”
Stephen Garrett

“Heartbroken for Tommy and his family. A great Manager, but more importantly a great man. Thoughts and prayers with his family at this sad time.”
Marc Smyth

“Absolutely gutted and heartbroken to hear the news about this great man. Honestly one of the nicest guys you would have ever spoken to, a true gentleman. You will be missed. Thanks for everything, Tommy.”
Ruaidhri Donnelly

“Devastated and heartbroken. You weren’t my Manager, you were my friend. You believed in me and gave me belief like no other. You gave me the best days of my football life but it’s the good memories off the pitch I’ll cherish now more than ever. Your success will never be measured in medals and trophies, it will be in the unbelieveable person you were. Rest easy, Bres, you were a special man and one of a kind. Love you gaffer.”
Ciaran Caldwell

“Heartbreaking news. One of a kind, gave me the best times I’ve ever had in my career.”
Martin Murray

“Heartbroken. Thanks for everything you legend of a man.”
Tomas Cosgrove

“Rest in peace Tommy, Club legend.”
Joe Gorman

“What a man Tommy was. Gave me the chance to play at such a great Club. RIP gaffer.”
Caoimhin Bonner

“Gutted to hear of Tommy Breslin’s passing. A great Manager whose man management skills set him aside from many of the others I played undr and who done so much in recent times for Cliftonville Football Club. Just an absolute gentleman of a man. Thoughts with all of his family.”
Ciaran Donaghy

“A genuinely nice man who’d never pass you, such a tragic loss. My deepest condolences to all the Breslin family. Rest in peace, Bressie.”
Diarmuid O’Carroll

“Gutted to hear the news about Tommy. I never played under him but met him a few times and he was the most down to earth fella you could possibly meet. My condolences to his family.”
Garry Breen

“No tweets will do this man any justice. Bressie was honestly one of the best men I have ever come across in life. It was only a few weeks ago at Cats’ Testimonial that we had the privilege of calling you gaffer again. RIP Tommy.”
Fra Brennan

“A true gentleman who will be sadly missed by everyone. One of the nicest people you will ever meet. RIP boss.”
Declan O’Hara

“One of life’s greatest taken too soon. Very hard to put things into words but reading all the posts and messages shows how much he meant to everyone. A great, actually the greatest Manager our Club has ever had. He led us through some phenomenal years and that will never be forgotten. We have lost a great man, a gentleman, one of the best. Most importantly we have lost a friend. ‘Bro’ going to miss you, rest in peace.”
Brian Campbell

“Absolutely devastated to hear the news of wee Bressie. One of life’s true gentlemen. Heartbroken. RIP wee man.”
Barry Holland

“Such a lovely man. Funny, witty, genuine, honest, warming and an absolute gentleman. You will be greatly missed, Tommy”
Gerry Flynn