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Sports journalist who covered World Cups dies aged 70

One of the leading sports journalists in Northern Ireland has died aged 70 after a career spanning half a century.

Gordon Hanna chronicled the fortunes of the Northern Ireland football team for decades including its two successive World Cup Finals appearances in 1982 and 1986.

Starting out on the Lurgan Mail, he was a regular contributor to the Belfast Telegraph and, in later life, golf correspondent of Sunday Life.

He numbered top footballers among his closest pals, most notably Gerry Armstrong, Pat Jennings and the late George Best.

Gordon, pictured above, died at the Northern Ireland Hispice at Whiteabbey on wednesday following a long illness.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Jim Gracey described Gordon as “a trouper right to the end.”

Said Jim:  “His by-line was impossible to miss. In a career spanning over 50 years, he filed reports to every newspaper circulating in these islands and his voice was also heard on radio and television as he chronicled the fortunes of the Northern Ireland international football team and Irish League clubs, at home and abroad.

“Above all, he was a wonderful man to know and a terrific companion.”

Gordon’s other journalistic roles included editor of the Ulster Star newspaper in Lisburn and Northern Ireland football correspondent for the Weekly News and later, the Sunday People.

He is survived by wife Anne and daughter Judith.  Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalised.