Bob Wilson leads tributes to former colleague Jimmy Hill

Former Coventry manager and BBC pundit Jimmy Hill was an iconic figure within football
Staff Reporter

THE world of football has paid tribute to Jimmy Hill after the former Coventry manager and BBC pundit's death.

The 87-year-old passed away on Saturday after a seven-year battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Hill was a pioneer in the game and as chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association led the campaign to scrap the maximum wage for players.

He also fronted the BBC's Match of the Day programme, making over 600 appearances on the show as a presenter and analyst, and former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson, who also worked with him at the BBC, said he was proud to call Hill his friend.

"I feel privileged to have got to know him so well, thanks to my football career and 20 years at the BBC. I am so pleased to have seen him in sadder times when illness struck so cruelly," he told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.

"I went with my wife and Jimmy's wife Bryony to present a lifetime achievement award on behalf of the London Football Coaches' Association, of which he was president.

"He looked great, he was immaculately dressed and there was still real mischief in him. We had huge laughter. They were precious minutes."

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, who was also director general at the BBC, believes Hill personified the game.

"In many ways, Jimmy Hill was football. What was remarkable about Jimmy was that he went on to have so many different careers," he told the BBC.

"He was a popular presenter, a hugely influential figure and, such was his style, he was loved by millions - even among those who didn't follow football.

"I knew him at the BBC. He always kept a simple charm and had a warm personality."

BBC commentator John Motson added on Five Live: "I remember how much of a support he was in the commentary box.

"He started a magazine, Jimmy Hill's Football Weekly, and he was one of the first people to take a franchise in America when the game was growing over there. Every time you think about him you come up with something new he was involved with."

Hill played 297 games for Fulham and was later manager and chairman at Coventry and has a statue outside the Ricoh Arena.

He also successfully lobbied for the introduction of the three-points-for-a-win system in 1981 and also fought for the right for clubs to wear sponsors' logos on their shirts, all of which now seem commonplace in the modern game.

The Cottagers, where he played between 1952 and 1961, wrote on Twitter: "Jimmy's contributions to the club, on and off the field, were immeasurable."

He led Coventry to the Division Three championship in 1963-64 and the Division Two title three years later, before quitting the club shortly before the start of their top-flight campaign.

The Sky Blues held a minute's applause for Hill before their 1-1 draw with Oldham on Saturday and paid tribute to their former manager on Twitter: "Thank you for everything Jimmy, without you none of this would have been possible."

Ex-England skipper and Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer tweeted: "Very sad news about Jimmy Hill. Footballers and football have so much to thank him for. A man who loved the game."

And former Wales boss Bobby Gould, who played under Hill at Coventry, believes he was one of the great managers.

"They talk about Jose Mourinho and people managing football clubs but there's only manager in my life and in the history of the game for me and that's Jimmy Hill," he added on 5 Live.


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