BERTIE PEACOCK will be remembered as a footballing great who not only participated in some of the greatest moments of Celtic's history but also contributed hugely to the game he loved.

Peacock was a gentleman first and, almost incidentally, a player of great talents. His death at the age of 75 at a hospital in Belfast will be mourned by supporters all over the world. His legacy is an enduring one. He served the game with distinction as a player, manager and


As a player, he contributed to iconic moments in Celtic's history. The Celtic sides of the 1950s were adorned by the talents of such as Charlie Tully, Willie Fernie, Bobby Evans and Peacock. Yet they were considered by many at the time to be an under-achieving group. They did win the domestic double of league and cup in 1954 after a Scottish Cup victory in 1951. But it is other triumphs that have lingered in the the consciousness of generations of Celtic fans.

Peacock was a mainstay in the side that won the St Mungo Cup in 1951, the Coronation Cup in 1953 and, most famously, the League Cup in 1957, beating Rangers 7-1 in the final.

Peacock made more than 450 appearances for the club, playing in a half-back line that also included Jock Stein and Bobby Evans. He scored more than 50 goals from the club and was a commanding presence in the middle of the park.

His career began at his home town team of Coleraine and moved on to Glentoran before joining Celtic in 1949. He played in Glasgow for more than a decade, earning 32 caps for Northern Ireland and playing in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Northern

Ireland reached the quarter-finals of that tournament and Peacock was nicknamed the Little Ant because of his industry in midfield.

On his return to Northern Ireland, he took over the management of the national side in 1962, immediately giving George Best his debut against Wales in Swansea. He finally managed Coleraine for 12 years until 1984. He was also involved in the backroom staff when Northern Ireland went to Spain in 1982 for the World Cup.

But Peacock was greater than mere footballing triumphs. He had a great warmth and compassion that led him to give rather than simply receive. His love of the game and his innate personal gifts prompted him in the bar of the pub he owned in Coleraine to help devise the Milk Cup international youth tournament. This tourney began 22 years ago and prospers today, holding the reputation as one of the most important youth competitions in the world.

Peacock quietly but passionately promoted youth football but, in truth, was an a personal exemplar of all that was best in the game.

As a Northern Ireland Protestant, Peacock was questioned on his relationship with supporters in his home land and at Parkhead in wake of the death threats that Neil Lennon, a Roman Catholic from Lurgan, received when he played for the province.

He said then: ''Life has changed a lot in Northern Ireland but it only goes to show that the morons are still around. I hope and I believe they are just a small minority.

''It certainly didn't go on in my day, I can tell you that.''

Peacock had no time for such narrow sectarianism. His interests and his

popularity were widespread. He was heavily involved in community projects in Coleraine, campaigning to set up a drop-in centre for the town. He engaged in life as energetically as he once battled in midfield.

A Celtic spokesman said: ''He was a true Celtic hero and he will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.''

Victor Leonard, chairman of the Milk Cup committee, said: ''Bertie Peacock could walk into any supporters' club and receive a rousing


He unwittingly served as a reminder of a time when footballers would cover the heroic status conferred by the public with a layer of genuine, personal humility.