WHEN someone in the public eye dies, it is common and even understandable that their life is distilled into headline form. One or maybe two events that sum up a life.

Such was the case last Friday, when it was announced that Colin Weir had passed away. You may know the name, and most likely in connection with his Euromillions win, when he and his then wife Chris scooped a whopping £161million, one of the biggest jackpots ever.

That moment may have defined the coverage of his death, but a stroke of fantastic fortune did not define the man. And while the money allowed him to help causes he cared about, whether those were the charities he backed privately or, more publicly, the football club he loved, his generosity of spirit wasn’t born on the day he picked those seven numbers.

His death last week at the age of 72 – not 71, as was widely reported - after a short illness was unexpected, and brought with it an outpouring of sadness from those who knew him, and those who may only have shared his love of Partick Thistle and felt a debt of gratitude for what he had done for the Firhill club.

The enduring legacy he may leave in Maryhill will likely be the Thistle Weir academy, which he funded and nurtured to ensure that Thistle could not only attract and produce the best young talent for their first-team, but ultimately, help them in their aim of being a sustainable concern by attracting transfer fees down the line.

Serendipity was not only at play when Mr Weir hit the jackpot, but it was also working to help Partick Thistle down the line. At the time, Colin and Chris led a comfortable life, and through their professional careers had experience of handling and budgeting large sums of money. They were switched on, and were a little removed from the image portrayed at the time of a humble cameraman and nurse who struck lucky.

They also just happened to share a lawyer with a certain Jacqui Low, whose PR company were eventually taken on to help with their communications. From there, Low, who would go on to become the Thistle chairman, was gradually sucked into their lives.

At that time, Weir was already helping out his local club, Largs Thistle, but it was known that he was also a fan of the Maryhill Jags too, and when he was approached by the club to help out financially, there was only going to be one answer.

What Weir didn’t want to do however was simply throw money at buying players on exorbitant wages outwith the normal means of the club, but rather, to help fund and support a youth academy that was operating under severe financial constraints, and help bring it up to the level expected of a professional football club. From the start, his overriding priority was to ensure his involvement was for the long-term benefit of Partick Thistle.

For the newly-named Thistle Weir Academy, then headed up by current chief executive Gerry Britton with help from the man who would fill his shoes, Scott Allison, Weir’s ongoing investment was transformational.

Weir may have loved the club, but he shared the view of the board at the time that it was time for them to get away from their ‘cuddly’ image. He wanted Thistle to be taken seriously, although for those who knew him, his sharp and sometimes outrageous sense of humour was what defined the man. A quality that also displayed his often underappreciated intellect.

Towards the end of his life, he became deeply concerned about developments at Thistle, withdrawing his funding for the new regime led by David Beattie in August after he ousted Low in a boardroom coup.

There is no doubt that the coup angered him, but more pertinently, he was deeply concerned for the future of Thistle, and didn’t wish to be associated with the direction the club were heading, which ran contrary to his own vision. The thought of Thistle falling into foreign ownership with no connection to the club was anathema to him.

Privately, it hurt to withdraw his funding, but the opportunity would soon arise for him to step in and get involved again, and put the club back on the path he had envisioned. He wanted the fans to own the club, and for it to be placed back at the heart of the community.

And so, he purchased a majority shareholding in Thistle which will be gifted to the fans by March, as well as buying the old south terracing and the Main Stand that bears his name from Firhill Developments Ltd, immediately gifting the land back to the Thistle.

As he stood in the television gantry at Firhill over his years working for STV, filming footage for their outside broadcasts, Weir couldn’t have foreseen that one day he would be the man credited by many fans for perhaps saving the club.

It is no doubt a comfort to those he has left behind that the glowing eulogies about him from Thistle supporters came before his death, when he bought his majority shareholding. It was an emotional time for Weir as he came to realise what his involvement had meant to so many who shared his love for the Jags.

His foundation will continue to quietly give money away to causes which were close to his heart, ensuring his legacy outside of football will be one that marks his generosity.

And it is unlikely that anyone inside Firhill will forget what he did for Partick Thistle.