A CUP-WINNING Largs Thistle boss is giving his backing to calls for a former Celtic and Scotland footballer who grew up in the town to be honoured for his work outside the game.

John Crawford, who led Thistle to Junior Cup glory 30 years ago, says he fully supports the campaign for Lou Macari to be recognised for his work with homeless people in his adopted home city of Stoke-on-Trent.

Macari, who turned 75 on Friday, June 7, set up the Macari Centre to help homeless people in the Staffordshire city.

The facility, now based at a converted former hotel, gives people in need an address and space of their own, as well as access to support from a team of trained staff 24 hours a day.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

The work Macari has masterminded saw one national newspaper columnist describe it as a "disgrace" that he had yet to be honoured for helping people without a home turn their lives around.

Macari, who began his playing career with Kilmarnock Amateurs and St Michael's in Kilwinning, spent seven years at Celtic before moving south to join Manchester United in 1983.

He made 329 appearances for the Old Trafford club before ending his playing career at Swindon Town and setting out on a managerial career that lasted for 18 years.

Macari also won 24 caps for Scotland between 1972 and 1978.

Replying to the column, written by Ian Ladyman in the Daily Mail on the day of Macari's birthday, the Stoke legendsaid: "Many thanks for the kind words, mind you I was trying to keep my birthday quiet", followed by a laughter emoji.

Former Largs Thistle boss Crawford, who steered the Barrfields club to their one and only Scottish Junior Cup win in 1994, says he is full of admiration for Macari, and agrees that the former Manchester United superstar, deserves official recognition for his exemplary voluntary work.

Crawford said "Huge respect for Lou Macari showing great commitment and caring for homeless people in the city of Stoke.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

"Macari was a hugely successful player with Celtic, Man United and Scotland to name but a few. He was also a successful manager counting among his clubs, Stoke City (twice), Swindon, West Ham, Birmingham, Celtic and Huddersfield.

"During Covid, and working with Stoke City Council, the Macari Centre was set up to support the homeless, thus providing food on a daily basis and somewhere to sleep.

"After Covid, Macari rented a warehouse providing sleeping pods, and a place to call home.

"Now 75 years old, Lou still works at his Macari Foundation Centre providing care for the homeless.

"The proud Scotsman once from Largs and following a star studded career in football has put much back into his community. Well done Lou!"

Asked whether Macari should be honoured, Crawford added: "Of course. He should have been recognised for his commitment a good while ago."

The Macari Centre, which was set up in 2016, provides support and accommodation to around 28 individuals to help them get their lives back on track.

Macari moved to Largs from London when he was nine years old and was scouted by Celtic while playing in the Ayrshire county schools set-up.

He turned professional in 1968 and five years later signed for Manchester United, going on to win numerous trophies before stepping into management in 1984.