Tributes have been pouring in for Keith Alexander, the Macclesfield manager who passed away aged 53 yesterday following his club’s game against Notts County in League Two.
As Leon Mann rather bluntly explains in the Mirror, his passion for the game was extraordinary.
When you flat line three times, the last thing you do is throw yourself back into the very job that nearly killed you.
But such was Keith Alexander’s love of football – and management – he couldn’t resist taking up the reins as soon as he recovered from a brain aneurysm in 2003.
But his legacy was more than just his passion for the game; Alexander was a pioneer for racial equality actively involved with the Kick It Out campaign, and until yesterday one of just three black managers in professional English football (an alarming number, given a quarter of the game’s players are black).
In the Guardian, Paul Elliott writes:
Black managers could not have a better role model. He put club chairmen and officials at their ease because he was so engaging, so normal and had such a good sense of humour. And, of course, he could really debate the laws of the game, having qualified as England’s first black referee.
Keith had reason to feel bitter about the way he was sometimes treated in football, especially when he started out, but he never succumbed to bitterness and preferred to try to break down barriers with quiet dignity, character, humour and a smile.
Personally, Keith never made excuses and worked incredibly hard. In years to come his achievement in being appointed the first full-time black professional manager in England will be seen as as big a landmark as Viv Anderson becoming the first black player to represent England and Paul Ince becoming the first black player to captain the country.
Finally, a broad range of tributes in the Telegraph indicate how many people Alexander touched in the football world and beyond.