Coventry & Warwickshire

Jimmy Hill tribute event takes place in Coventry

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Media captionEx-Liverpool captain and TV pundit Alan Hansen met England manager Roy Hodgson

A celebration of the life of ex-Coventry City manager and chairman Jimmy Hill has been held in the city.

Bobby Gould, who played under Hill, and Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor spoke at Coventry Cathedral.

BBC commentator John Motson was also among those who paid tribute to the ex-Match of the Day presenter, who died last year aged 87.

Long queues of fans were seen before the doors opened at 16:30 GMT.

There was not enough room for all the fans inside the cathedral, which holds about 2,000 people.

The dean, the Very Reverend John Whitcombe, asked those gathering outside to raise a cheer.

A Boys Brigade trumpeter and the Jaguar Land Rover Band kicked off the evening with a rendition of the Sky Blue Song.

Hill's son Jamie told those inside the cathedral: "The recurring themes to Dad's action-packed life seemed to have been football, charity and wives.

"No wonder he was always so busy."

Tributes to Jimmy Hill and more live updates

What Jimmy Hill means to Coventry

'Prat apology'

His widow Bryony Hill, who arrived wearing sky blue, earlier said Hill's heart was in Coventry.

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Media captionJimmy Hill tributes

"It was where he was happiest. He had a lovely life there, [and his] involvement with the people of Coventry and Warwickshire. He loved the whole of the Midlands," she said.

She also recalled her husband receiving a letter of apology from the then Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after he had called Hill a "prat" on television.

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Media captionJimmy Hill, a life in football

Mrs Hill said it had been after a match at Carrow Road where former United footballer Eric Cantona made a tackle that Hill had described as "vicious".

"It took a good man, a brave man, to write that letter and Jimmy appreciated it because he knows the situation when you have had a problem with your team and you are hot under the collar.

"He understood Alex's emotion at the time. They didn't fall out."

Image caption Jimmy Hill's widow Bryony said his heart had been in Coventry and it was where he was happiest

The PFA chief executive Taylor said: "Tall and bearded he was a beau buccaneer, like a pirate captain not afraid to sail into unchartered waters.

"Football's Christopher Columbus."

Gould said as an apprentice "the Bearded Wanderer gave us 10 shillings more".

He said everything his family "has to this day I owe to one man".

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said: "He was a very likeable character who managed to get things done and in football that's not always easy."

FA Cup-winning Coventry manager John Sillett, who was one of the first to arrive at the celebration, said Hill was "a great motivator".

He said Hill had a work ethic that was "out of this world" and "was on the go all the time".

BBC commentator Barry Davies said Hill was "a marvellous guy, always fun" and "a leader of men".

Davies said: "He was always interesting. He always had opinions and stuck to those opinions."

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Media captionBryony Hill recalls the time Sir Alex Ferguson apologised for calling her husband a "prat"

Former Coventry chairman Joe Elliott said: "He's a hero, a showman, a maestro, genius: a man ahead of his time."

Ex-Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper and Match of the Day colleague Bob Wilson said: "He just made you laugh... and made you smile.

"It's a great achievement as a human being if you can make people smile."

Hill joined Coventry City as manager in 1961, leaving six years later shortly after winning promotion to the First Division for the first time.

The former pundit, who lived in Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex and died on 19 December, led the campaign for the scrapping of the maximum wage for professional footballers, as chairman of the PFA.

Hill, who also played 297 games for Fulham, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008.

Image caption About 2,000 people were inside Coventry Cathedral

Jimmy Hill

  • 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 to 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 England's first all-seater football stadium
  • Credited with securing the introduction of three points for a win instead of two

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