Billy Bingham, former NIreland player and coach, dies at 90

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Billy Bingham, a former Northern Ireland soccer player who twice guided the national team to two World Cups as a coach, has died. He was 90.

Bingham’s death was announced Friday by his family in a statement. Bingham’s son, David, said his father died in a care home in England late Thursday.

Northern Ireland’s soccer federation said Bingham held “a unique place in the football hearts” of the nation.

As a player, Bingham was a right winger who made 56 appearances for Northern Ireland and helped the team reach the quarterfinals of the 1958 World Cup. He started his club career at Glentoran, before joining Sunderland in 1950 and going on to have spells with Luton, Everton — a team with whom he won the English league title and later managed — and Port Vale.

In a 38-year managerial career, he had two spells as Northern Ireland manager — from 1967-71 and then 1980-93 during which the national team beat Spain in the 1982 World Cup and qualified for the tournament again in 1986.

“He was everything that a Northern Ireland manager needs to be: tactically astute, innovative and inspirational,” the Irish FA said.

In the family statement published by Britain’s Press Association, Bingham’s son, David, said: “Dad was diagnosed with dementia back in 2006 and I think it is a tribute to his will that he managed another 16 years from that diagnosis to the time he passed away.”

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