Ex-Northern Ireland football internationals were among hundreds of mourners who attended the funeral today of the former Belfast Telegraph sports editor Malcolm Brodie.
Harry Gregg, who played in the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden, Pat Jennings and Gerry Armstrong – who scored the winning goal against hosts Spain in the 1982 finals – heard emotional tributes from former colleagues and family members at Cregagh Presbyterian Church, Belfast.
Brodie, who died last week aged 86, reported on 14 World Cup finals – a record number by a sports journalist.
Dame Mary Peters, an Olympic gold medallist who first met him just before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, announced that a library which is to be part of a proposed new Northern Ireland sports museum will be named in his honour.
She said: "He was a unique man. He inspired so many generations. To know him was to love him."
All the main sports were represented. Former boxing manager Barney Eastwood, Terry Neil, the former Arsenal and Northern Ireland manager, and Maurice Hayes, the ex-Northern Ireland Ombudsman, attended the service.
Dozens of former colleagues from all the main newspapers and broadcasting outlets included the current editor of the Belfast Telegraph, Mike Gilson, and three former editors, Roy Lilley, Ed Curran and Martin Lindsay.
Brodie, a Glaswegian, was evacuated to Northern Ireland at the outbreak of the Second World War when he was just 13. He joined the Telegraph in 1943, established the paper's first sports desk, and even though he retired as sports editor in 1991, he worked extensively for many of the national newspapers right up until his death.
He used to tell friends: "I was Hitler's gift to Ulster."
BBC Northern Ireland broadcaster Jackie Fullerton, one of his closest friends, said: "We will never, ever see his like again in Northern Ireland journalism."
There were tributes by his three sons Iain, Steven, and Kenneth and his granddaughter Claire. They sat beside Brodie's widow Margaret – they married in 1949 – and heard the Telegraph's group sports editor Jim Gracey speak of a great reporter with a contacts book which was the envy of journalists everywhere, and who never broke a confidence, generating tremendous loyalty from his staff.
Gracey, who travelled the world with his mentor attending Northern Ireland internationals as well as European Championship and World Cup finals, said his former boss was a legend whose sense of fun, humour, mischief, warmth and generosity was known across the globe.
He added: "He was sharp, incisive, fiercely competitive, unerringly accurate and whose credibility was beyond question." Afterwards there was a service at Roselawn Crematorium.