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Monday 26 Feb 2024
Obituary: Chris Nicholl (1946-2024)

The Irish Football Association is saddened to learn of the passing of former Northern Ireland player and Under-21 manager Chris Nicholl.

When you select your Northern Ireland team of all time there is a good chance that standing strong at centre half (probably beside Jonny Evans) will be Chris Nicholl.

A gentle giant in every way. Strong, intelligent with the ball, a force of nature on the football field, perhaps he might be described as an old fashioned centre half, but there was much more to his game than that.

He was a hero of the Spain ’82 World Cup, slotting in beside the speedy John McClelland in the Northern Ireland back four.

He was part of the defensive bulwark which allowed Martin O’Neill and Sammy McIlroy to dictate the play for Billy Bingham’s team as they played their way to the quarter-finals including the never to be forgotten ‘Night in Valencia’.

Chris Nicholl was always destined to be a coach, spending his downtime learning and watching how Billy Bingham organised his team.

He was a stalwart of Northern Ireland from 1974 to 1983, earning 51 caps as an Aston Villa and Southampton player, and he went on to manage Southampton.

When Lawrie McMenemy became international manager he brought Chris in to be his U21 manager due to his coaching ability and as a role model for young players.

The Irish FA sends its deepest condolences to his family circle.

Words: William Campbell