Sir Alex leads Mackay tributes

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the fantastic career of Dave Mackay as the tributes came in for the former Tottenham and Scotland midfielder, who died on Monday night aged 80.

Edinburgh-born Mackay passed away at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

Having joined Tottenham from Hearts in 1959, Mackay went on to achieve a historic league and FA Cup double with the north London club in 1961.

Spurs are set to hold a minute’s silence for their former captain, who also helped Derby to success as a player and coach before taking up a similar role with Swindon.

Ferguson, who fondly remembers Mackay as a contemporary and a friend, told Sky Sports News: “I played against him once and I’m glad it was only once!

“He was hard. He was one of the hardest men of all time – a great Scottish player. You think of Dennis Law, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness; Dave Mackay was along with them.

“He came back from two broken legs. He broke it against Manchester United actually, recovered and broke it again. He went on to play for Derby County and won the league and then became the manager, which was not an easy task because he followed Brian Clough, of course.

“But he’s had a fantastic career both has player and as manager. I always remember he was a good friend of mine.”

Spurs will hold their minute’s applause ahead of Wednesday night’s game against Swansea at White Hart Lane, with black armbands being worn by the squad and a number of the club’s highest-profile former players paying tribute to Mackay at half-time.

Current Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is anticipating an emotional occasion for the evening kick-off, saying: “It is a great loss for British football. He was a legend for Tottenham and in British football.

“A very sad day and I want to send condolences to his family and friends.

“He is a legend, big player and manager, and it is a very sad day. It is emotional yes. Our players know it is important to get the three points.”

The Scottish FA announced it will also hold a minute’s applause in honour of Mackay before Scotland’s friendly against Northern Ireland later this month.

The 22-cap Scotland international began his career with Hearts in 1953 and captained the Edinburgh side to the Scottish League title during the 1957-58 season.

“The Scottish FA is deeply saddened by the news of Dave Mackay’s death,” a statement on its website read.

“He was a legendary figure with Heart of Midlothian, Tottenham Hotspur and Derby County; an inspirational pillar for the clubs with whom he played with distinction and, of course, his country.

“Dave played 22 times for Scotland and was instrumental in helping his country qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals in Sweden in 1958.

“His last international appearance occurred against Northern Ireland in 1965 and the Scottish FA believe it is appropriate that a minute’s applause should be observed in his honour prior to the forthcoming match against Michael O’Neill’s side at Hampden Park on Wednesday, 25th March.”

Arsene Wenger, manager of Tottenham’s biggest rivals Arsenal, also spoke about Mackay in his own media briefing ahead of the Gunners’ game at QPR.

“He’s an iconic figure of English football who contributed a lot to Tottenham’s success at the time,” Wenger said.

“He played for Derby as well and was a great player. We’re sad to see these people disappear. You are sorry (to hear about it) and it is a sad moment for English football.”

Former Derby captain Roy McFarland spoke fondly about Mackay’s time at the Baseball Ground.

“The majority of pictures you see of Dave Mackay, he had his chest stuck out. That is how he played and that is how he lived his life,” he told BBC Radio Derby.

“He had a tough legacy taking over as manager from Brian Clough, in terms of the atmosphere at the club, but he calmed and settled everyone down.

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