The funeral of talented ex-Glenavon defender Tony Scappaticci took place in Banbridge today.
Among the mourners at St Therese’s Church was Gary Hamilton, a lifelong fan of the Lurgan Blues and the current manager of the club.
He was visibly moved as the coffin of one of his boyhood heroes – who passed away on Monday at the age of 48 – was led from the church.
Mr Hamilton said: “You always had your favourites when you were growing up and Scappi was one of mine.
“Him and my uncle Davy (Dennison) would have travelled together to matches. They’d have been round at my house regularly.
“When you’re that age and you have Tony Scappaticci in the house as a Glenavon fan, it would be like a young Liverpool fan having Stevie Gerrard in the house.”
The Glenavon boss added: “He probably could have played across the water if he wanted to, but he seemed to be content living here and playing for Glenavon.
“In my time of watching Irish League football there’s probably only Mark Glendinning who rivaled him at full back.
“He loved the club and was a great servant to the club. The respects of Glenavon Football Club go out to his family, the children he has left behind.”
He continued: “Everybody knew off the pitch he had his troubles, but he performed week in, week out on the pitch. Some players can do that, some can’t.
“The thing about Scappi is he fought his demons. He became teetotal for 13 years. He did something about it and that [is a] great testament.
“It comes down to that attitude he had on the football field that he never gave up, he never stopped trying.”
Striker Stevie McBride who played in the same Glenavon team as the defender decribed him as a “real character”.
He said: “Scappi loved the banter and the craic and a night out with the lads. At the same time he trained hard and was fit as a flea.
“He was a fantastic player for Glenavon, and his death is very sad news for everyone connected with the club.”
Mr Scappaticci was laid to rest in St Patrick’s Cemetery, Banbridge. He is survived by his partner Michelle and children Stefan, Enrico and Sofia.