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'One of rugby's great men' - Influential coach Steve Black has died

By PA
Jonny Wilkinson and Steve Black (Getty)

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Newcastle have announced the death of well-known coach Steve Black.

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Black served on the Falcons’ coaching team twice – in a variety of positions – as well as taking roles with the likes of Wales, the British and Irish Lions, Newcastle United and Sunderland.

During his time with Newcastle’s football side he worked under Kevin Keegan during the club’s successful spell in the 1990s and warm tributes have been paid by many who worked with and under him.

A renowned mentor and motivator, Black is best known to many for his close relationship with England great Jonny Wilkinson.

Wilkinson previously described Black as “the best at what he does” and Newcastle added on Sunday: “All at Newcastle Falcons are deeply saddened to learn of the death of our friend and former colleague, Steve Black.

“Blackie, as he was universally known, spent two spells on the club’s coaching staff – but he was so much more than that.

“The jovial Geordie was the spiritual heartbeat of the Falcons from the very early days of professionalism, helping steer Newcastle to promotion and then the Premiership title at the first attempt.

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“Winning multiple domestic cups under his watch, Blackie’s unique motivational talents saw him succeeding with the Welsh national team and the British and Irish Lions, as well as with Newcastle United and Sunderland football clubs, and numerous other elite sportspeople.

“Much more than his sporting achievements, Blackie was a friend to all of us – a proud Geordie who understood the value of people, and how to inspire them.

“Our deepest condolences go out to Blackie’s family, and his many, many friends. You will never be forgotten.”

Alan Shearer led the tributes on Sunday, saying: “Awful news. RIP Blackie”, while ex-Sunderland and Newcastle striker Michael Bridges added: “So upset reading this tragic news. An amazing man who had time for everyone

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“Took me under his wing in 1994 and trained me on Tynemouth beach to get me fit for the start of my YTS contract @SunderlandAFC. The world has lost a great man, husband, father and mentor.”

Terry McDermott, who worked with Black as a football coach at Newcastle and Huddersfield, tweeted: “Devastated to wake up to the news my big mate @B1ackie has passed away. Words can’t do justice what a top bloke he was and he will be missed very much by everyone who knew him #ripblackie”

Black also worked with Cleveland Police officers.

The force said: “We’re saddened to hear of the loss of Steve Black.

“Steve provided wonderful energy and support to many of our officers and staff as part of our recent leadership and coaching work and he was a mentor to many.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues.”

Ex-England and Newcastle playmaker Rob Andrew, who was the club’s director of rugby when Black was on the staff, wrote on Twitter: “Shocked and heartbroken… legend in sport is overused but he is one ..to us all he made us all better..gentle funny man but a winner..honour to have worked with you.”

Newcastle United Football club stated: “We are saddened to learn of the death of Steve Black, who worked with Newcastle United under Kevin Keegan during the Entertainers era and was also part of the club’s backroom staff during the 2015/16 season. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Rugby broadcaster Nick Mullins posted: “Oh my goodness. Very few people I’ve ever met enhanced the lives of those around around him quite like Steve Black. We’ll be at Kingston Park later to pay our tributes to one of rugby’s great men.”

Ex-Scotland international Andy Nicol wrote: “Very sad news, Blackie was one-of-kind, a very special man. Thoughts are with his family.”

Former England second row Ben Kay wrote: “Awful news. One of life’s enhancers.”

– additional reporting RugbyPass

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