Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry City fans mourn former manager Jimmy Hill

Jimmy Hill Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Jimmy Hill became Coventry City manager in 1961, setting them on their way from the Third Division to the First Division

Tributes are pouring in after former Coventry City manager and club chairman Jimmy Hill died aged 87.

He joined the club as manager in 1961, leaving six years later shortly after they had been promoted to the First Division for the first time.

Tributes are being left at the statue of him outside Coventry's home ground, the Ricoh Arena.

Sky Blues manager Tony Mowbray led the plaudits, describing him as "a forward-thinker and a revolutionary".

"Everyone at the club is in a state of shock and deep sadness at hearing the news of Jimmy's death," he said.

"History tells us that without the efforts of Jimmy, both on the pitch and off it, Coventry City's future will have been extremely different from what it is today."

Image caption Fans have been leaving scarves and other items next to Jimmy Hill's statue outside the Ricoh Arena

'Visionary' manager

Former Coventry City player Bobby Gould said he owed "everything I have at this time" to his former manager.

"His knowledge of the game was phenomenal, his understanding of individuals was just brilliant," he said.

"He let me have everything."

Ex-Coventry midfielder Ronnie Farmer said Hill was an encouraging manager who wanted to play innovative football.

"If you were trying to do a job and trying to do it to your best ability, and if you had an off-day, he didn't mind," he said.

Micky Gynn, a player in the Coventry side that beat Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup final, said he hoped the club could get promoted from League One in honour of the former manager.

"Playing at Coventry for 10 years like I did, you got to know what Jimmy Hill did for the club," he said.

Jimmy Hill

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jimmy Hill scored five goals for Fulham in an away match against Doncaster Rovers and helped the Cottagers gain promotion to the top-flight in 1959
  • Born in Balham, London, on 22 July 1928
  • Played as a forward for Brentford and Fulham
  • As chairman of Professional Footballers' Association led the campaign to abolish the maximum wage, which was scrapped in January 1961
  • Became Coventry City manager, leading the club to two promotions before leaving for broadcast work with ITV in 1967
  • Presented Match of the Day for 16 years from 1973
  • Returned to Coventry as managing director in 1975, later becoming chairman
  • Made Highfield Road the first all-seater football stadium in the UK
  • Credited with introducing three points for a win instead of two

Coventry indie band The Enemy were among the many celebrities paying tribute to Hill.

They tweeted: "A Coventry City icon passes. RIP Jimmy Hill X"

Former England international and current Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear that Jimmy Hill has left us. A football man through and through who gave the game so much in so many ways #RIPJimmy"

Image caption Lifelong Coventry City fan Gilbert Ferguson said Jimmy Hill was a "visionary" who put the Sky Blues on the map

Sky Blues fans outside the stadium have been speaking about their memories of Hill.

"The father of this football club has died," said Les Manton, who has followed the side for more than 50 years.

Fellow supporter Keith Ruddock said: "Jimmy Hill was Coventry City FC. He brought the club to the city for the fans."

Gary Clifford said he remembered the day when Hill arrived as manager in 1961, saying he "transformed everything" about the club.

"He was a superb man for the city, for the football club," he said.

"Changing the strip to sky blue and bringing the forward line that he did, fabulous players, from that moment in time we knew something special was going to happen, and it did."

Paul Todd, who used to cut Hill's hair at a salon near the old Highfield Road stadium, remembered him as a notable figure for the city as well as the club.

"Football was the main thing, but he would help anybody else that he could," he said.

Image caption Fans attending Coventry City's home match with Oldham Athletic have been paying tribute to Jimmy Hill at his statue outside the Ricoh Arena

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