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Ex-Celtic and Raith Rovers star dies of leukaemia aged 46

Ronnie Coyle passed away a few weeks after a benefit match was held for him by the two clubs.

Football star: Paul McStay (left) pictured with Ronnie Coyle a few weeks ago at the benefit match.
© SNS Group

Former Raith Rovers star Ronnie Coyle has died from leukaemia at the age of 46.

His death on Tuesday night happened only a few weeks after Raith and Celtic, where Coyle started his career, met in a benefit game for the ex-defender. He had suffered from the cancer for the past two years. According to his former club Raith, he passed away suddenly in a Glasgow hospital.

Paul McStay - a former Celtic captain and lifelong friend of Coyle - flew from Australia to take part in the benefit game, which saw Raith and Celtic relive the 1994 League Cup Final match between the two sides.

In a career which began in 1984 and ended in 1999, Coyle also played with Clyde, Middlesbrough, Rochdale, Ayr United, Albion Rovers, East Fife and Queen’s Park. He made over 300 league appearances - more than 250 of them with Raith.

On Wednesday, Raith Rovers Chairman Dave Somerville paid tribute. He said: "The club is shocked to hear of the passing of Ronnie Coyle. The fact that we were aware of the extent of his illness does nothing to minimise the sadness experienced at this time.

"As has been said many times recently Ronnie was not only a very gifted player but will be always be remembered for being a very likeable and decent man who was a true Rovers supporter.

"I am sure that the memory of the day against a Celtic select only a couple of weeks ago stayed with Ronnie to the end. As has been said on many occasions since, that was what sport should be about and it was fitting it was in honour of Ronnie who epitomised what sport should be about. Our thoughts are with his family at this moment."

'Shocked and stunned'

Ally Gourlay, speaking on behalf of the Ronnie Coyle Benefit Committee, added: "We are shocked, stunned and so very, very sad. Everyone connected with Raith Rovers has lost a true friend. Ronnie truly was a legend in real terms.

"His last wish was to see Raith Rovers back in the SPL and I can think of no more fitting a tribute to the big man than securing a place back in the top flight. However, our thoughts at this time are with Joan, Kevin, Briony and Georgia and his many close friends and family."

Celtic also paid tribute to their former player. In a statement, the club said: "Everyone at Celtic Football Club is shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Ronnie Coyle.

"Ronnie began his playing career with Celtic in 1984 and spent three years with the club, making two first team appearances. He went on to play for a number of clubs, including a long and successful spell with Raith Rovers.

"The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic Football Club are with Ronnie’s family and friends at this extremely sad time."

Mr Coyle’s funeral will take place next Tuesday, April 19, with a funeral requiem mass at 10am in St Peter’s Church in Paisley’s Braehead Road.

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