Tributes paid to former Coleraine and Arsenal winger Shaun Dunlop

FOOTBALL fans throughout the north Antrim area are coming to terms with the death of one of Ballymoney's greatest ever players, Shaun Dunlop, who passed away on Thursday.

A key member of the all-conquering Coleraine team of the 1960's and 70's, Shaun also turned out for English giants Arsenal as a youth player.

He spent three years with the Arsenal youth team between 1959-1963 where he trained under the guise of Ron Greenwood who went onto manage the England team in the late 1970's.

Following his spell with the Gunners, the pacey right-winger returned to the province and signed for Irish League outfit Coleraine where he went onto make over 400 appearances during the most successful period in the club's history.

Lining up alongside Dessie Dickson, Johnny McCurdy and the late Bertie Peacock, Shaun went on to claim all four domestic trophies in a glittering 12 year career with the Bannsiders.

One of the highlight's of his time at Coleraine was the goal he notched in Coleraine's 2-1 Irish Cup victory over Glenavon.

Speaking to the Times last August, Shaun, 62, reflected on the glory days with Coleraine and his tentative years with the north London side.

He said: "It was a great experience at Arsenal. I learnt a lot in my short time with the help of our coach Ron Greenwood.

"I learnt so much with my day-to-day interaction with him, because he wasn't afraid to tell you where you were going right or wrong."

Referring to the tutorship of then Coleraine player-manager Bertie Peacock, Shaun said: "Bertie had us playing attractive football and the majority of the team was made up of local lads.

"He was an ambassador to the sport. If somebody had dared to demand bigger wages he would have replied 'do you really think you're that good?'. It's a shame the same can't be said in present day football."

Chairman of Coleraine Football Club, Hugh Wade, said: "On behalf of the club I express my sympathies to the family of Shaun, it is a very sad loss.

"Shaun was an exceptional player. He had absolutely brilliant skill and was a tremendous club man for Coleraine."

John Mairs, Chief Executive of the club, remembers watching from the terraces as Shaun terrorised opposing defences week in, week out.

He added:" He was part of one of our great sides and was always a threat to any team he played against.

"He really was a favourite. I was sorry to hear of his passing and I express my condolences to his wider family."

Shaun also starred for the Northern Ireland youth side which reached the final of the World Youth Cup in 1963.

He ended his playing career with Linfield.

As a mark of respect, a one minute's silence will be observed at Coleraine's next home game against Larne on New Year's Day.

Mr Dunlop's funeral took place on Sunday at St Patrick's Parish Church, Ballymoney.