FRIENDS and family gathered to celebrate the life of Burnley’s oldest former footballer George Knight.

The vintage Claret made his debut in the 1938/39 season before the outbreak of the Second World War. The father-of-four, from Bolton, later became a scout for the club and eventually got a job recommending stars of the future to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his predecessor Ron Atkinson.

Mr Knight died aged 90 on August 24 in Birmingham.

He leaves sons Michael and Ian, daughters Pauline and Marie; grandchildren Emma, Lucy, Suzie, Joe, Lizzie and Kate.

The former footballer’s funeral took place St Edmund’s RC Church, St Edmund’s Road, Bolton, yesterday.

More than 150 mourners attended, including Sir Alex Ferguson.

Father Gerry Haugh said: “George was a great man and was liked by many, many people.

“He always attended church and was coming here until as recently as three years ago when he became more frail.

“We will all miss him and remember him.”

Burnley FC historian Ray Simpson, who attended the funeral, said: “George was the last Burnley footballer to make their debut before the Second World War.

"He came to the Swansea game at the Turf last season for his 90th birthday.

“He had a very nice time and enjoyed himself. It was a celebration for him being the oldest living Claret.

“It is sad as we’ve now lost Gordon Haigh, Tony Hapgood and now George.

"They are players from a different generation.”

Mr Knight made his debut for Burnley aged 17 and played nine times for them, scoring twice.

But his career on the pitch was hampered by the outbreak of the Second World War and then by a knee injury.

Mr Knight became a scout for the club and was involved with ManUnited in the 1980s.

A Burnley FC spokesman said: “George was the oldest living former Burnley player and his death is sad news.”