Lomas pays tribute to former Man City scout Peter Neill

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The local man who gave many stars from Northern Ireland their first step on the football ladder has passed away.

Well known Coleraine man, Peter Neill was 76.

He was buried last week.

Peter sent many local youngsters for trials across the United Kingdom, one of those players was former Manchester City and Northern Ireland captain Stephen Lomas.

Speaking exclusively to Times Sport this week, Lomas said he was sad to hear of Peter’s passing, but added that he has fond memories of the local man, describing him as a ‘true gentleman’.

“I was very sorry to hear about Peter’s death, he was a great guy.

“He gave so many players a go at full time football, myself, Gerry Taggart, Neil Lennon, Michael Hughes and many others that didn’t make it.”

Lomas was spotted by Peter when he was just 12 playing in the Milk Cup.

Peter then accompanied Stephen for trials at Manchester City.

The midfielder eventually signed a professional contract at Maine Road, he recalled: “Peter was the vital cog in the wheel at City.

“I remember hearing one time that when Fergie [Alex Ferguson] took over at United he asked where City were getting all these young players from.

“Peter and Ken Barnes, who would be like a Head of Academy now, were the reason for that - the pair were the envy of other clubs.

“Peter not only looked after me in my early days but also my family who used to come over to see me.

“He really did look after all of the lads and treated us like his own.

“He was like a father figure to many of the young apprentices.

“I remember going over with Peter to Manchester, it was on the boat in those days, and we used to stay at a great hotel called Crescent Gate just outside Manchester.

“Peter loved his football and he was very popular not only back in Coleraine but in Manchester, he was really well known. Everyone knew him, and everyone got on well with him.”

The former Millwall boss added: “I remember my mum and my late grandfather over at City with me one time, Peter was there too, they were all in Ken Barnes’ office drinking tea, and Dennis Law walked in, my grandfather, who was a huge City fan never forgot that.

“Peter was a great guy, and I will never forget the opportunity he gave me, my sympathies go out to his family.”