Gareth's debt to tragic boss

IPSWICH Town defender Gareth McAuley was shocked by news that his former manager at Lincoln City - Keith Alexander - had died suddenly this week.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town defender Gareth McAuley was shocked by news that his former manager at Lincoln City - Keith Alexander - had died suddenly this week.

Aged 53, Alexander was counted as a friend as well as a football colleague by McAuley.

“Keith gave me my breakthrough at Lincoln,” said McAuley.

“He played in Ireland for Cliftonville at the end of his career and when he moved into management, he kept in touch with the scene over there.

“He brought me across to Lincoln and took me on, gave me a chance in the game. He helped me so much in those early days. He was a massive help to be honest.

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“Keith made it easy for me to settle in; his door was always open if I wanted a chat or any advice.

“On and off the pitch he did a great job there.

“We stayed in touch over the years after I left Lincoln and I count him as a friend as well as my old gaffer.”

Reflecting on the news that Alexander had died after his club Macclesfield had played Notts County on Tuesday night, McAuley added: “It took a while for the news to sink in. I was shocked.

“I watched the goal from Macclesfield against Notts County before I left for training and then I was sitting in the canteen area watching Sky Sports and it came up with breaking news about him. I didn't take it in at first.

“It's desperately sad news. He was a good football man but more importantly, he was a really nice guy.

“He made you feel so comfortable and he was very approachable. Even when he had you in his office over something, you'd come out laughing.

“I knew he had the aneurysms a few years back at Lincoln but I've spoken to players and staff who were at Lincoln when I was there and are now at Macclesfield and they are shocked by what's happened.

“He will be missed by a lot of people. He was a terrific guy and I want to send my deepest sympathies to his family.”

Macclesfield assistant boss Gary Simpson confirmed this weekend's Coca-Cola League Two match at Hereford will go ahead as scheduled following discussions with Alexander's family, Macclesfield's players and officials of the Edgar Street club.

Simpson said: “It's exactly what the gaffer would have wanted.”

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