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Gerry ARMSTRONG: Legacy of my hero Bertie will live on.

Byline: Gerry ARMSTRONG

THE European Championships may have finished, but the quality action is still on show ..and it's here in Northern Ireland.

I've been at the adidas-sponsored Milk Cup this week and yet again it's been a resounding success.

The only sorry side has been the death of Bertie Peacock, who was one of the founding fathers.

Bertie's funeral is today and it shows just how popular he is by the fact his service has been switched to a bigger church so many more can pay their respects.

Bertie was a good man, decent, honest and a real lover of the game.

Many will remember him as the manager who gave Northern Ireland legend George Best his debut.

But for me, he was much more than that.

The fact he played at the World Cup and was then involved on the managerial side with me in 1982 is a credit to his versatility.

He was a real hero, a man who commanded so much respect.

He was my hero.

It's obvious that his passing is a massive blow to Northern Ireland football, but his legacy lives on.

It did this week, for the Milk Cup has been a revelation, but what's really done it for me is that we beat Brazil, and we beat them well.

The U19s side is really coming along and while I would love to see more money chucked at them, it's just not possible sometimes.

What was really encouraging is that a lot of the home teams were well organised, disciplined and really concentrating on playing good football.

That can only be beneficial for us, and I hope to see three or four of the youngsters playing in the senior squad in three to four years' time.

You only have to look at the Northern Ireland duo of Sammy Morrow and Dean Shiels..they have scored some crackers in this tournament.

The U14s final between Maccabi Haifa and Everton was a belter and could have been 12-8 instead of 5-1 in favour of the Israelis.

The County sides have really surprised everyone, but again they - like every other club - have provided great football and great entertainment.

Just what Bertie would have wanted.

CAPTION(S):

SUPER SHIELS: Northern Ireland striker Dean Shiels, above out-foxing Israel's Jaas Abdallah, was inspired in the Milk Cup
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 25, 2004
Words:388
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