Football mourned the loss of some cherished figures in 2008, including Constant Vanden Stock and Tommy Burns, men synonymous with their clubs. Maksym Pashayev's death at 20 shocked Ukraine.
Article top media content
Football mourned the loss of cherished figures in 2008, notably Constant Vanden Stock and Tommy Burns, men synonymous with RSC Anderlecht and Celtic FC, as well as Ukraine Under-21 captain Maksym Pashayev.
Thousands lined the streets of Glasgow in May to pay respects to Burns, who died aged 51 after a long battle with cancer. "If you define a Celtic man, it would certainly be Tommy Burns," said the club's chief executive, Peter Lawwell. As a left-footed midfielder, eight times capped by Scotland, Burns spent 14 years at Celtic Park and ex-Rangers FC player Bobby Russell said he was the best footballer he ever faced. After a spell at Kilmarnock FC, Burns returned to manage Celtic for three years and went on to hold various positions at the club while assisting Berti Vogts with the national team. "He was a very good footballer," said David Provan, "but more than that, a great human being."
John Cushley, a member of the Celtic squad that won the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1967, also died aged 65, while another man with a firm place in the Bhoys' history, their first black player Gil Heron, passed away aged 87. Former Scotland manager Ian McColl, who died at 81, played in the same era on the other side of town at Rangers, making 526 appearances between 1945 and 1960 and forming part of the Ibrox side's famed 'Iron Curtain' defence. The goalkeeper in that team, George Niven, died aged 79, while Gretna FC and Dundee United FC mourned men who had worked recently at the heart of either club, with the deaths of Gretna owner Brooks Mileson and United chairman Eddie Thompson.
The name of Constant Vanden Stock is inextricably linked with Anderlecht, and Belgian football as a whole. Having started out as a youth player in 1924, he was part of the Anderlecht side that gained promotion to the Eerste Klasse in 1935 – they have been permanent members of Belgium's top flight ever since. He had ten years as Belgian national team coach before returning to help Les Mauves through a difficult financial period, taking over as chairman in 1971. It was a position he would hold for the next 25 years, his tenure coinciding with a golden era for the capital club, bringing ten national championships, seven Belgian Cups, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1976 and 1978, the UEFA Cup in 1983 and the UEFA Super Cup in 1976 and 1978. Vanden Stock was made honorary president after standing down but remained a presence at the stadium that shares his name until he passed away aged 93.
European football also mourned the premature deaths of a number of players. FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk defender and Ukraine U21 captain Pashayev died following a car crash in December, robbing the country of one of its brightest prospects. The 20-year-old had represented Ukraine at various ages, playing more than 100 international matches in total, and was on the verge of the senior national side. "It is a huge and irreplaceable loss, from both a personal and a footballing perspective," said Ukraine U21 coach Pavlo Yakovenko. Former UC Sampdoria player Gionata Mingozzi, 23, and Club Brugge KV's Belgian international striker François Sterchele, 26, also died after road accidents. Former Croatia U21 forward Hrvoje Ćustić perished on the pitch in March aged 24, having sustained head injuries when he collided with a concrete wall during NK Zadar's match against HNK Cibalia.
Among the other losses ...
Mathieu Sprengers NED – aged 69
"'Jeu' was a very committed individual who loved football, and we shall remember him as a great and outstanding personality," said UEFA President Michel Platini after the president of the Royal Netherlands Football Association passed away after a short illness. Mr Sprengers also served for seven years as UEFA treasurer.
Claude Abbes FRA – 80
Abbes was a goalkeeper with the Les Bleus squad that came third at 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden. He also enjoyed club success with AS Saint-Etienne, being a French champion in 1957 and a French Cup winner in 1962. FC Béziers also featured high on his playing CV.
Robert Jonquet FRA - 83
Former Stade de Reims Champagne and France captain Jonquet created something of a legend during those '58 finals, playing part of the semi-final defeat by Brazil with a broken fibula as there were no substitutions at that time. Jonquet won five French titles and two French Cups with Reims, and lost European Cup finals to Real Madrid CF in 1956 and 1959. A stand at Reims' new Auguste Delaune Stadium was named in his honour.
Karl Sekanina AUT – 82
When former Austrian Football Association president died on his 82nd birthday, the current ÖFB supremo, Friedrich Stickler, led the tributes: "In Karl Sekanina, Austrian sport has lost a personality who will forever have a place in Austria's football history due to his commitment and his success."
Heinz Fahnler AUT – 66
Fahnler was a former UEFA official and referee, who passed away while serving as a UEFA delegate for the Real Madrid CF–FC BATE Borisov match in September. Thierry Favre, representing UEFA at the funeral, said: "His heart beat for football throughout his life. His passion was always for the game."
Hasan Dogan TUR – 52
Hasan Dogan died after a heart attack just five months after taking over as Turkish Football Association president. "This is terribly sad news for Turkey and the European football family," said Platini.
Rudolf Illovszky HUN – 86
Former Hungarian national team coach Illovszky was synonymous with local club Vasas SC, whom he served as player, coach and in the boardroom – and whose stadium takes his name. 'Uncle Rudi' was capped three times by Hungary, but had a longer association with the national side as a coach, guiding them to a silver medal at the 1972 Olympics.
Franco Sensi ITA – 82
The tycoon was AS Roma president for 15 years, the high point of his tenure seeing the Giallorossi claim the 2000/01 Scudetto. "He was a person of great sensitivity and the players were like sons for him," said former Torino FC coach Gianni De Biasi. "Such an attitude is uncommon in modern football."
Manol Manolov BUL – 85
Capped 57 times by Bulgaria, former defender Manolov's loss was felt most keenly at PFC CSKA Sofia where he won a record 12 Bulgarian titles as a player between the club's foundation in 1948 and 1962. He subsequently coached CSKA, lifting more honours and bringing Hristo Stoichkov to the club in 1984.
Thierry Gilardi FRA – 49
A commentator held in high regard by colleagues, fans and players alike. Franck Ribéry led the tributes that followed Gilardi's death from a heart attack, with the winger dedicating his goal for France against England the next day to him.
Kyriakos Theocharous CYP – 66
Helped resurrect Anorthosis Famagusta FC's fortunes after being appointed chairman during the 2003/04 season, when the club were mired in debt. Theocharous purchased land for the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium and appointed Temuri Ketsbaia as player/coach but sadly died before he could watch the side in the UEFA Champions League.
Heinz Krügel GER – 87
One of East Germany's foremost coaches, Krügel's coaching zenith came in 1973/74 when he guided 1. FC Magdeburg to the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, beating AC Milan 2-0 in the final.
Carlos Alhinho POR – 59
Vyacheslav Ambarcumyan RUS – 67
Fons Bastijns BEL – 61
Kęstutis Birieta LIT – 61
Valentin Bubukin RUS - 75
Tim Carter ENG – 40
Leonardo Costagliola ITA – 86
Guy David FRA – 61
René Dereuddre FRA – 77
Derek Dooley ENG – 78
Régis Genaux BEL – 35
Stefan Gerenski BUL – 81
Louis Hon FRA – 83
Heinrich Kwiatkowski GER – 81
Adam Ledwoń POL – 34
Viktor Nosov UKR – 68
Robert Pintenat FRA – 60
Jean Prouff FRA – 88
Danko Roev BUL – 73
Vladimir Savdunin RUS – 84
Vladimir Schegolkov UKR – 71
Edouard Stako FRA – 74
Johnny Thio BEL – 63
Boris Tropanet MDA – 44
Giovanni Viola ITA – 82