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By ESPN Staff

Hoops bid fond farewell to Parkhead hero Burns

Thousands of Celtic fans will gather at Parkhead today for the funeral of former player, manager and coach Tommy Burns.

Family, friends and former colleagues will remember Burns at a noon service at St Mary's Church in Calton, where he was brought up.

About a mile away, thousands of fans are expected to gather outside Celtic Park where the ceremony will be relaid on giant speakers.

Tributes have poured in since Burns lost his battle against skin cancer early last Thursday morning.

Burns, who was 51, is survived by wife Rosemary, four children and a grandchild.

The lifelong Celtic fan served his club for 25 years as a player, manager and latterly youth development head and first-team coach.

He also had a successful spell as player and manager at Kilmarnock and coached Reading, Newcastle and Scotland, who he played for eight times.

Former Celtic skipper Danny McGrain, who also worked in the youth set-up in recent years, showed the strength of feeling Burns invoked.

'I loved Tommy Burns,' McGrain said. 'You meet some people and you like them, but Tommy was someone that I loved.

'I got to realise that during the early 1980s, although I wouldn't have told him that.

'But he was just one of those people that you just can't help but love. He was a helpful guy and his memory will live on within this club.'

Charlie Nicholas, who played with and under Burns at Parkhead, added: 'He truly was Mr Celtic and he has become such a focal point for what Celtic means to young people now.

'It's absolutely extraordinary and it's something from which Tommy's family and all of Tommy's friends have taken incredible strength.

'I've been at Tommy's house over the past few days and the strength that the family have received from the tributes at the ground, particularly from the Celtic support... it's been an absolutely incredible tribute.'

Close friend and former Partick Thistle manager Gerry Collins said: 'He was never the type who craved a flamboyant lifestyle, out on the town eating in flash restaurants and being noticed.

'Tam would rather be at home with his wife and his family.

'Having said that, he also spent a great deal of time away from home on football business, much more than many other managers.

'He was fortunate to have a wonderful wife in Rosemary, who took care of their home and family.'

The funeral cortege will pass by Celtic Park after the ceremony, on its way to Linn Cemetery.

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