CLARETS heroes have paid tribute to fellow legend and “true gentleman” Tommy Cummings who has died aged 80.

The former Burnley FC captain and big centre-half was an integral member of the 1959/60 First Division championship-winning side.

And he etched his name into Turf Moor folklore when he scored a long-range effort after a charge upfield against Newcastle United in 1952.

Tommy made the fifth highest number of league appearances for Burnley, turning out 479 times in total between 1948 and 1962.

Following his death on Sunday, the player’s former team-mates described him as a “wonderful person” and “tremendous player.”

Willie Irvine, who played centre forward for Burnley, said Tommy acted as a positive influence when he was coming through the ranks.

He added: “Tommy scored one of the greatest goals ever seen at Turf Moor.

“When he first told the tale he beat about four men, but by the last time it was nine men and he crashed it in from 30 yards. He was a wonderful person off the field and a tremendous player on it.”

Ex-winger John Connelly added: “He was a lovely person and what you would call a really good club man.”

Tommy, who was known as one of the country’s quickest defenders, assumed the Burnley captaincy in 1951.

He was never selected for the full England side, but did turn out for the B team on three occasions.

Fellow Clarets legend Jimmy McIlroy said Tommy deserved to achieve international honours.

He added: “When I think of that championship-winning team, we were a gang and Tommy was one of us. He had a great sense of humour. He would come out with some things that would make everyone laugh.”

Tommy recovered from a serious knee injury to regain his place in the centre of defence mid-way through the 1959/60 season.

Although he missed a large part of the campaign, he played his part in the victory at Manchester City in May 1960 which clinched the trophy.

Former Burnley striker Andy Lochhead, said: “He was a very quiet chap and kept himself to himself.

“He was very much the same on the pitch as well – a complete footballer and I can’t remember him ever making a two-footed tackle.”

Another former team-mate Brian Pilkington added: “Tommy wasn’t up to going to Wembley this year, but he would have thought it was top drawer.”

Tommy played his last game for Burnley in a 2-2 draw at Bolton in August 1962.

He was also chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) between 1961 and 1963.

Following his retirement from playing he managed at Mansfield Town and Aston Villa until ending his football career in 1968.

He went on to run pubs including the Hare and Hounds, in Harle Syke, and the Shooters Arms, in Nelson.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the PFA, said: “Tommy was not only a great player, but also did great work for the PFA when it was evolving.

“Players today should be very proud of him as they owe him a great deal.”

Burnley FC chairman Barry Kilby added: “In many ways the timing could not have been worse as next season we are planning a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of that title success and it is so sad that Tommy cannot be there to share that with us.”

Tommy, who lived in Burnley, leaves his wife Joy, daughter Lesley, son Bobby, grand-daughter Lucy and great-grandson Bradley. The club flag at Turf Moor will fly at half mast in his memory.