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Quinn pays tribute to ‘The King’ Charlie Hurley

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Former Republic of Ireland centre-half Charlie Hurley has died at the age of 87.

Hurley won 40 caps for Ireland between 1957 and 1969 and was considered one of the best defenders in England throughout his career, renowned for his aerial ability

Born in Cork in 1936, Hurley moved to Essex with his family as a youngster and began his football career with Millwall.

He would later become synonymous with Sunderland, playing over 400 times for the Black Cats, and was named the club’s Player of the Century on the occasion of their centenary in 1979.

Former Sunderland player, manager and chairman Niall Quinn expressed just how fondly Hurley would be remembered both in Ireland and on Wearside.

“In an Irish context he was truly an inspirational footballer,” Quinn told RTÉ Sport.

“A rock at the heart of the defence, courageous, brave, tough but fair. I’m told he’d go through you with a dose of salt but he’d pick you up and ask you were you OK afterwards.

“That passed on too then to Sunderland because up there it became even bigger. He is a complete icon and I say ‘is’ because he will continue to be a complete icon.

“You must remember when he was doing his stuff for Sunderland back in the day, the people up there had ship-building and they had the coalmines.

“When they’d come up at the weekend and go to a game he was their inspiration, he was the one that drove the team forward, and they could see from his bravery, his courage, his leadership, that their club meant something to them.

“He’ll always be known as ‘The King’ in Sunderland…there are still kids in Sunderland getting tattoos of Charlie Hurley.”

There were tributes paid by the FAI and Sunderland AFC also.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Charlie Hurley’s family and friends at this difficult time,” said FAI president Paul Cooke. “It is over 50 years since Charlie won the last of his 40 caps but it is a measure of the esteem in which he was held in football that every Irish fan knows of the legend that was Charlie Hurley.”

Hurley takes in the applause of Sunderland fans during a 2016 game at the Stadium of Light

At the end of Sunderland’s promotion campaign of 1963/64, Hurley finished second to legendary England captain Bobby Moore in the vote for the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year award.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Charlie Hurley, one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of Sunderland AFC,” said the club in a statement.

Millwall, for whom Hurley played over 100 times, said that they are “saddened to hear of the passing of former player Charlie Hurley. To a generation of Millwall supporters, Charlie was the greatest player to don a Millwall shirt.”

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