SANDY JARDINE, one of Scotland’s most decorated and respected footballers, has died at the age of 65.
The former Rangers, Hearts and Scotland defender passed away peacefully last night, surrounded by his family, after an 18 month battle with cancer.
The sad news was officially confirmed by the Ibrox club, with whom he retained a close association in recent years, shortly after 10pm. Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager, paid tribute to Jardine and expressed his grief at the loss of a man who became a close confidant during the club’s troubled times off the pitch.
“There have been many great names associated with Rangers Football Club in our 142 year history and Sandy is a Rangers legend in every sense of the word,” said McCoist.
“We are all devastated with the news he has passed away, we have lost a great man today. I had the privilege of watching Sandy playing for Rangers when I was a young boy, I had enjoyed the pleasure of working with him closely since I returned to the Club in 2007 and he was a truly remarkable human being.
“His achievements both on and off the pitch are second to none and I was honoured to regard him as a friend. He gave everything for this great club and worked tirelessly in a number of roles because he wanted to ensure the traditions, history and standards at Rangers were maintained.
“He was respected not only by Rangers fans but also the wider football community and he is a huge loss to the game. We will never see his like again in the modern era.
“He recently told me he was proud to be a Ranger and wanted to be remembered forever as a Ranger. Well Sandy, you will go down in history as one of the greatest of all time and we will miss you terribly.
“It is a very sad day for everyone associated with Rangers and our thoughts are with his wife Shona, his children Steven and Nicola, his grandchildren and the rest of his family and friends.”
Born in Edinburgh, Jardine played in a variety of positions in the early years of his career with Rangers. He made his first team debut for Ibrox club the week after their infamous Scottish Cup loss to Berwick Rangers in 1967, starring in a 5-1 league win over Hearts.
Jardine, eventually establishing himself as an outstanding full-back, went on to make 674 appearances for Rangers, scoring 77 goals. He won three league championship medals, five Scottish Cup winners’ medals and five League Cup winners’ medals. He was also part of the 1972 European Cup Winners’ Cup winning side.
Prematurely in the opinion of many, Rangers gave him a free transfer in 1982 at the age of 33. He joined Hearts, playing at a high level for another five years and passing the 1,000 mark of senior career appearances. Jardine was part of the Tynecastle side who came so close to winning the league title in 1986. After hanging up his boots, he became co-manager of Hearts alongside his close friend Alex MacDonald.
Jardine was the first man to win the Scottish Player of the Year award twice with two different clubs - lifting the honour in 1975 with Rangers and then again in 1986 with Hearts. He had a fine international career, winning 38 caps for Scotland and appearing at the World Cup Finals of 1974 and 1978.
After leaving Hearts in 1988 for a business career, he later returned to Rangers where he worked in a variety of backroom roles.
Rangers chief executive Graham Wallace said last night: “Sandy Jardine epitomised everything that is good about Rangers Football Club. He was a man of principle and class and his contribution during his career both on and off the pitch was truly remarkable.
“He was a credit to the club for decades and in my meetings with him his dignity, class and love for Rangers shone through. On behalf of everyone at Rangers I wish to send my sincere condolences to Sandy’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Tributes for football hero
TRIBUTES poured in last night after the shock death of Rangers, Hearts and Scotland legend Sandy Jardine.
Rangers manager Ally McCoist tweeted: “We are all devastated by the news he has passed away.”
Hearts’ official Twitter feed stated: “Heart of Midlothian FC is deeply saddened at news of death of club legend Sandy Jardine. Our condolences to his family at this time.”
Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan added: “So sorry to hear about the death of Sandy Jardine tonight. A passionate and committed man both on and off the pitch.”
Minister for Sport Shona Robison added: “Sad news about Sandy Jardine, sincere condolences to his family.”
Current Rangers midfielder Nicky Clark tweeted: “Terrible news tonight, RIP Sandy Jardine. A real legend, thoughts with his friends and family.”
Journalist and broadcaster Graham Spiers said: “I can still picture Sandy Jardine on these vivid green fields of August in the old Ibrox. He was terrific: a full-back whom wingers dreaded.”
Entertainer and lifetime Rangers fan Andy Cameron said: “They say you should never meet your heroes well I met and worked with one of mine, Sandy Jardine. He was a true Blue Ranger and gentleman RIP.”
Former Celtic striker John Hartson tweeted: “Sad news the passing of Sandy Jardine. Thoughts are with his family and friends.”
LIFE AND TIMES
1948: Born in Edinburgh on 31 December
1967: Made Rangers debut against Hearts, aged 18, and went on to start in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final
1970: Won first major trophy, the League Cup, after a 1-0 win over Celtic in the final, and made his Scotland debut as a substitute against Denmark
1972: Won Cup Winners’ Cup with Rangers, having scored in a 2-0 semi-final win over Bayern Munich
1974: Played in all three group matches for Scotland in the 1974 World Cup finals
1978: Played at second World Cup finals, making only one appearance against Iran
1979: Won last of his 38 caps (nine as captain) against Belgium
1982: Joined his boyhood team, Hearts
1986: Part of Hearts team that came within one game of winning the league title as well as the Scottish Cup. Voted Scottish Football Writers Player of the Year. Promoted to joint-manager alongside Alex MacDonald.