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Former Millwall assistant boss Theo Foley dies

Tributes have been paid to former Millwall assistant coach Theo Foley, who has died at the age of 83.

The Irishman enjoyed a successful playing career, most notably with Northampton, before taking up backroom roles at a number of clubs.

Born in April 1937, Foley played for Home Farm and Exeter before making his name at Northampton.

The defender helped win two promotions as the Cobblers ascended to the First Division in 1965 for their only campaign in the top-flight.

Running a chicken shop to supplement his income, Foley left for Charlton but took to coaching after struggling with a knee injury, spending a total of seven years at The Valley.

In the mid 1970’s he was assistant manager, then manager at Charlton.

But he made his name for Lions fans first when he was caretaker after Gordon Jago left suddenly in 1977 – and then when he returned as asssistant to then then-unfancied George Graham in 1982.

The duo completely cleared out the dressing room of makeweights – including the 28-year-old Sam Allardyce who had come from Sunderland. They then steered the Den club from a very close shave with relegation to the bottom rung – to promotion into the second tier in 1985.

Their tenure was marred only by a pitch invasion at Luton in the FA Cup in 1985.

Graham took Foley with him when he became Arsenal manager in 1986 – and the pair were in charge of the Gunners when Michael Thomas scored the title-winning goal in a 2-0 victory at Anfield in 1989. That moment was what he described as the pinnacle of his career.

Meanwhile John Docherty took over at The Den and the Lions were in the top flight within two years.

“We send our condolences and best wishes to Theo’s Family and friends.”

A Charlton statement added: “The club is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Charlton player and manager Theo Foley at the age of 83.”

Addicks fans’ group AFC Charlton tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of CAFC legend Theo Foley. Several of us here had the privilege to meet Theo and he was always a gentleman, full of joy and life. He will be sorely missed.”

Pictured: Millwall Manager George Graham (l) and his assistant Theo Foley in a dejected mood after the match was halted when fans spilled on to the pitch. Millwall fans had invaded the pitch half an hour before the kick off, returning to the terraces after a personal plea from George Graham.

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