Former Ireland footballer Charlie Hurley dies aged 87

Tributes have been paid to former Sunderland and Republic of Ireland defender Charlie Hurley following his death at the age of 87.

Nicknamed ‘The King’, Hurley made more than 400 appearances for Sunderland and was named the club’s Player of the Century in 1979.

He began his professional career at Millwall and ended it at Bolton, winning 40 caps for Ireland in the meantime, and later had a spell as manager at Reading.

A statement on Sunderland’s official website said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Charlie Hurley, one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of Sunderland AFC.

“Named the Club’s Player of the Century in 1979, The King was a giant in the story of SAFC and his legacy on Wearside will forever endure.

“A man mountain on the pitch and a gentleman off it, Charlie’s aura and charisma ensured that he was adored and idolised by supporters and team-mates alike.

“Charlie adored Sunderland and Sunderland will always adore him. Our heartfelt sympathies are with his family, and all who loved him.”

Cork-born Hurley was raised in London, but made his name on Wearside, where he spent 12 years and played all but one game as Sunderland won promotion to the old first division at the end of the 1963-64 season.

He made his Ireland debut as a 20-year-old in a 1-1 World Cup qualifier draw with England in Dublin in May 1957 and went on to captain his country on more than 20 occasions.

Football Association of Ireland president Paul Cooke said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Charlie Hurley’s family and friends at this difficult time.

“It is over 50 years since Charlie won the last of his 40 caps, but it is a measure of the esteem in which he was held in football that every Irish fan knows of the legend that was Charlie Hurley.

“We are proud that he played for Ireland and we extend our deepest sympathies to all who knew The King.”


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