Ferguson leads tributes at funeral of Seán Fallon
Soccer:Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson paid tribute to former Celtic and Republic of Ireland player Seán Fallon at his funeral today in Glasgow.
The Sligo man died at the age of 90 last week, leaving a legacy which included his time as assistant manager to Jock Stein when the club became the first British team to lift the European Cup in 1967.
Hundreds of mourners attended his funeral service at the Church of Christ the King at Kings Park in Glasgow, including Ferguson and famous Celtic faces such as current manager Neil Lennon and a number of current and former players.
Ferguson addressed the congregation to pay tribute to “a great man”.
He said: “I think it’s very difficult for people who are successful to remain humble, it’s a touch of greatness. Seán always had that greatness.
“Through his background, his upbringing, his Irishness, that breeds humility and also loyalty, he would never let you down.”
Although Ferguson was a supporter of rival Glasgow side Rangers, he formed a strong friendship with Fallon as he built his career as a coach and a manager.
He praised him for his role as assistant manager to Stein and said he was talented in the position, which required him to “get to the heart of the dressingroom, make sure you know what’s going on and you can help the way that the manager sometimes cannot help”.
Ferguson also spoke of Fallon’s skill in developing young talent and working with Stein to create arguably the greatest Celtic team of all time.
He said: “That was the structure that I think helped Celtic become great and to become the first club in Britain the lift the European Cup.”
The Old Trafford manager also shared some personal insight into how well the pair knew each other.
He said: “Over these years he became a great friend of mine and a great supporter of me. He had great observation, which I must say only (his wife) Cathy’s got.
“He said he could tell, watching me on the telly, when I’m angry and when I’m happy. I thought I was always angry.
“What a fantastic man and it’s a privilege for me to be here.”
Among the mourners were other Celtic veterans including Kenny Dalglish and Tommy Gemmell, who scored against Inter Milan when they won the European Cup in 1967.
Current players present at the service included captain Scott Brown, Tony Watt, Adam Matthews and Georgios Samaras.
Fallon leaves behind his wife, Myra, five daughters and a son.
His grandchildren, in turn, paid their tributes to their “Papa”.
One said: “Our papa said he realised his dreams. He’d a family he loved, a job he loved. May we all be so blessed.”
Fallon played eight times for his country, making his debut against Norway in November 1950 and scoring twice, against West Germany and France, in the years that followed.
Fallon said he began to support the Glasgow club because his father had taken to going to see them while recovering in the city from wounds sustained in the first World War.
In the end, when offered a choice between moving to Celtic or West Brom after impressing with Sligo Rovers and Glenavon, he opted for the Scots despite having to settle for a lot less money.
Having made his debut towards the end of the 1949/50 season, he quickly established himself as a key member of the team and was appointed captain. He, in turn, made Stein his vice-captain, in part because he wanted to improve the stature of his friend who was considered by some of the younger players to be over the hill at 29. Fallon had, in fact, lied about his own age, claiming to be 24 rather than 28 and was, unbeknownst to his team-mates or manager, almost the same age as Stein.
The Scot succeeded him as skipper when Fallon was sidelined by injury in 1952, but Fallon played more than 250 games, winning a double, another Scottish Cup and two League Cups before his retirement in 1958.
When Stein became Celtic manager in 1965, he asked Fallon to be his assistant and the partnership delivered nine league titles, seven Scottish Cups, six League Cups and, of course, the European triumph of 1967. One of the Irish man’s key roles was recruitment and he is credited with talking many of the club’s greatest players into signing up.
He was, he admitted, “hurt deep in my heart” when he was later demoted by Stein to the position of chief scout but he accepted the job because, he said, of his great love for the club and the pair’s friendship endured until the Scot’s sudden death in 1985.
By then, Fallon had had a brief spell in charge of Dumbarton but his association with Celtic remained close right up until his passing with the former left back and sometime striker back at the club last year both to unveil the championship flag at the start of this season and to celebrate his 90th birthday with members of the Lisbon Lions.