THE 26-year-old wife of Celtic footballer Tony Mowbray has died after

a four-year battle against cancer.

Bernadette Mowbray, who married the Celtic player last Easter, died at

home in her husband's arms on New Year's Day.

Mrs Mowbray was diagnosed as suffering from terminal cancer early last

year. She had defeated breast cancer but discovered that it had spread

to her hip, liver and lungs.

The couple decided to bring their wedding forward when they learned

the extent of her illness and were married last April. Initially they

had planned to wed in Antigua last June, at the end of the season.

The couple were married in St Charles Church in Paisley surrounded by

500 guests, including Tony's team-mates Paul McStay, Pat Bonner, Charlie

Nicholas and Peter Grant.

Father Ben O'Keefe told the congregation that the church had been

deluged with letters and telephone calls from wellwishers.

Last night Mr Mowbray, 31, who joined Celtic from Middlesbrough for

#1m in 1991, said: ''I consider myself fortunate to have been by my

wife's side when eventually the moment came. She died in my arms with

her family surrounding her which is the way she wanted it.''

Bernadette's father, Mr Jimmy Doyle, said: ''I would like to say for

Bernadette's family how proud we are of the strength and the support

that Tony has given all of us. He is a very special person indeed.''

A spokesman for Celtic Football Club said: ''Everyone at Parkhead is

deeply saddened. Tony and his wife were very popular characters and we

will be giving him and his family every support that we can.''

Mrs Mowbray will be buried later this week, although no funeral

arrangements have been finalised.

The family has asked that their privacy be respected.