Boss Dyche pays tribute to Burnley's greatest ever player - Jimmy McIlroy

A 'legend' and a 'figurehead' - those were the words shared by Sean Dyche as the Burnley boss paid homage to the club's greatest ever player, Jimmy McIlroy.

While addressing the media at the Karaiskakis Stadium, home to Greek Super League side Olympiacos, Dyche broke away from the questionning surrounding the Europa League play-off to pay tribute to the town's adopted son.

Clarets legend Jimmy McIlroy

Clarets legend Jimmy McIlroy

The Lambeg-born inside forward, emblematic of the club's most distinguished generation, died at the start of the week, aged 86, with his funeral taking place at his beloved Turf Moor on August 31st.

McIlroy was a shining beacon of the club's rich history, a protagonist of the success in 1960 when the Clarets were crowned champions of England, and a trailblazer for the club in Europe, playing against Stade de Reims and Hamburg.

After joining from Glentoran, the Northern Irishman went on to make almost 500 appearances for Burnley, with 439 of those in the old First Division, and scored 131 goals across the board over 13 seasons.

McIlroy, capped 55 times for his country, scoring in victory over Italy in Belfast in the 1958 World Cup qualifiers, featured in an FA Cup final for the Clarets against Spurs in 1962.

And his success has stood the test of time. McIlroy, who would become a sports writer for the Burnley Express, was handed immortality when having a stand named in his honour, he was awarded freedom of the borough and appointed an MBE in 2011 for services to football and to charity.

"I only met him very briefly," said Dyche. "I met him in the Fence Gate one night, I was having a bit of dinner and I went over and said 'hello'.

"I'm well aware of the stories; he's a legend in the history of Burnley Football Club. It's a sad loss and I think it will be recognised in due course.

"I understand from the stories passed down from many different people what a high quality player he was but also what he meant to the area having lived in the town for so many years. It's a sad loss."

He added: "We expect it will probably be a really big hit on the town. Certain players encapsulate a club and an era and it seems to me from all the stories I've heard that he certainly did that.

"There wasn't just him, there were a lot of good players around at that time, but he was the figurehead and a high quality player who was thought highly of by many people in the game.

"His name is often one of the first ones mentioned in relation to Burnley Football Club and its history."