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Tottenham's brave Mackay hailed by Ferguson at funeral

25 March 2015, 09:14

Edinburgh - Tottenham Hotspur's Dave Mackay had "fantastic ability" and should have won more caps, ex-Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said at the Scotland international's funeral in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Mackay, who Spurs described as the 'heartbeat' of their 1961 double-winning side, was laid to rest as hundreds of supporters lined the streets of the Scottish capital to pay tribute to the tough-tackling left half who died aged 80 earlier this month.

A cortege left his first club Hearts' Tynecastle stadium for the remembrance service in the city. Among those paying their respects were Mackay's former Scotland team mate Denis Law and ex-Tottenham and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings.

Mackay won 22 caps for Scotland and was Footballer of the Year at home and in England, winning 10 major honours including helping Spurs to become the first English side of the 20th century to win the league and FA Cup double.

He had a glittering playing career after starting out in 1953 at Hearts, where he won every domestic honour, before joining Tottenham and later Derby County, where he returned as manager to lead them to the league title in 1975.

Mackay twice recovered from a broken leg to resume his playing creer but that was not what impressed Ferguson most.

"They talk about this great courage he had and I think that's unfair. I know he was the bravest man in the world but he was a fantastic footballer, he was skilful," he said.

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"His record's fantastic. It's a privilege to speak here today and I think we have seen the passing of a truly great legend."

But Ferguson, who faced Mackay only once, describing it as "a great memory", was rankled by the fact that his fellow Scot did not win more caps and blamed the selection system.

"Scotland was picked by a committee with their heads in the sand. The fact he has only 22 caps tells you,' he said. "Twenty-two caps for a player as good as that. I could never understand that."

Ferguson also referred to a famous photograph of Mackay grabbing Leeds United midfielder Billy Bremner by the scruff of the neck after a strong challenge.

"I thought it was a nice piece in the papers about how he (Mackay) said he didn't enjoy seeing that photograph of him and Billy Bremner portraying him as a bully. He said "I don't like bullies".

"I think that was exactly what Dave Mackay was like. He was a humble person. Humility is embraced by great people and I think Dave Mackay embraced that thoroughly. He protected his modesty with the pride only a Scotsman can do."

- Reuters


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