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Tony Grealish: 1956-2013

PUBLISHED

11:02 23rd April 2013

Brighton & Hove Albion are saddened by the news that former midfielder Tony Grealish has passed away at the age of 56.

He spent three seasons with the Seagulls between 1981 and 1984, during which time he captained the side in the 1983 FA Cup Final against Manchester United.

The Final finished in a draw, and the Seagulls lost 4-0 to the top-flight team in the replay, but the occasion stands as a highlight in the club’s history and will forever be remembered by the Albion faithful.

Former Republic of Ireland international Tony began his professional career at Leyton Orient in 1974, where he made over 170 appearances before moving to Luton Town in 1979.

He spent two seasons at Kenilworth Road before the then Albion boss Mike Bailey signed Tony for the Seagulls, and he racked up over 120 appearances for the club, scoring eight goals as a Goldstone Ground favourite.

Bailey said, "It's obviously very, very sad news and a real shock because Tony has died so young.

"He was an excellent player for me and also very good in the dressing room. He was a lovely lad and always worked his socks off for the team.

"It didn't surprise me that it was he who led the team out at Wembley in 1983 because he was captaincy material. It would be a fitting tribute if Brighton got promoted back into the top flight now."

Tony's former team-mate Steve Foster added, "Tony was a lovely man off the pitch and a passionate footballer on it - he was a fantastic midfielder!

"In those days the dressing room was full of leaders, full of characters and Tony most definitely fell into that category. Not only that, he had a great sense of humour and when he walked in, he would often have the lads in stitches.

"We shouldn't forget either that apart from playing at the highest level, Tony also represented the Republic of Ireland. You don't get to play international football unless you have something about you.

"From our FA Cup run, he will be remembered for skippering the side in my absence in the final and wearing my headband. I didn't have a clue he was going to do that until I saw him appear out of the Wembley tunnel and I was really taken aback. It was such a nice gesture - and speaks volumes for the kind of guy Tony was."

Following his time in Brighton, Tony went on to play for West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City, Rotherham United and Walsall before finishing his playing career at Bromsgrove Rovers in 1993.

Tony made a total of 45 international appearances for Republic of Ireland between 1976 and 1986.

On behalf of everyone at the club, our thoughts go out to partner Wendy, children Garret and Jordana, grandchildren Harrison and Joshua, likewise Tony's mother Nora, brother Brian and sisters Anne and Christine at this very sad time.