Andy Robertson leads tributes to former Celtic coach John Sludden, as funeral details confirmed for ex-Ayr, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock striker

Tributes have been paid to former Celtic youth coach John Sludden who died last week following an illness.

John Sludden, former footballer, coach and manager. (Picture: Alan Murray)

Sludden, a striker, played for several clubs including Kilmarnock, Stenhousemuir and St Johnstone - and was the last player to score at the Perth club’s old Muirton Park. However the strike came after his departure and was one of 78 goals during a prolific spell for Ayr United.

He was also well-remembered for his star role in a Scotland schoolboy international, televised against England in 1980. The striker, the aged 15, scored a double in the 5-4 Wembley win which also featured future Rangers player Paul Rideout for England, and Celtic captain Paul McStay. Sludden would later join the Hoops from St Mungo’s High school in Falkirk on the same day as his Scotland midfield team-mate.

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After ending his playing career with local side Stenhousemuir, the 56-year-old moved into coaching first with Bo’ness United and later worked alongside Celtic legend Tommy Burns, his former Kilmarnock team-mate, in the Parkhead development sides.

Former Celtic youngsters Simon Ferry and Scotland captain Andy Robertson both paid tribute via social media to the former coach.

Ferry wrote: “Can’t believe this. One of the best guys you could ever wish to meet. Si stick my boots in that ice bucket will you pal.”

Robertson’s tribute read: “A fantastic coach and an even better man! My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest easy Sluddy.”

Sludden went on to manage Camelon Juniors and East Stirlingshire in the Lowland League where he signed his son Paul - also a striker - who had spells with Falkirk and Stirling University, as well as East Fife and Stenhousemuir like his father. Football has also run in the family with youngest son Marc also a player with Dunipace FC in the East of Scotland League.

Sludden hit 78 goals in 140 appearances at Ayr (picture: SNS)

The 56-year-old died on Friday at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and is survived by his two boys, wife Linda, daughter-in-law Sam, granddaughter Elsie and mum Mary.

A private funeral will be held in Falkirk next week and a stream of the service available online. Donations are invited in the former player and manager’s memory to be made to Strathcarron Hospice.

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His last role in management was with East Stirlingshire in the Lowland League (Picture: Alan Murray)
John Sludden spent two years at East Fife in the early 1990s and his son Paul would later have a short spell at the club two decades later. (Picture: SNS)