Tributes have been paid to Dundee United legend Ralph Milne.
The 54-year-old — etched eternally into the minds of Arabs for his goal at Dens Park on the day United won the league in 1983 — succumbed to a long battle with liver disease.
He passed away at 6.30pm on Sunday in hospital.
Former team-mate John Holt today described the news as “devastating”.
He told the Tele: “Ralph was an impeccable player. The amount of goals he scored for that team was remarkable.
“He really was a legend. He was one of the typical Dundee lads in that side and was always pulling pranks. We were like one big happy family.”
Milne made 286 appearances for the Tangerines and remains the club’s record goalscorer in Europe.
The midfielder, and star of United’s Premier League winning season of 1982-83, also had spells at Charlton Athletic and Manchester United.
Montrose manager Paul Hegarty, another member of that side in the 80s, described Milne as a “simply wonderful” player and added: “He was one of those players that got people out of their seats as soon as he touched the ball. He will be remembered as one of the greats.
“I definitely wished we had more Ralph Milnes on the park. Everyone is devastated to hear that we have lost him so young. I am lost for words.”
Milne scored several iconic goals in United’s title-winning campaign, including a stunning match-winning volley against Celtic at Parkhead.
But the defining moment of his career came as United needed a win against Dundee at Dens to secure the league title.
Milne, then aged just 22, opened the scoring with an exquisite long distance chip as United went on to win 2-1.
Interviewed immediately after the game, he said: “It’s probably the best goal I’ve ever scored.
“Undoubtedly, it’s the most important.”
Jim McLean, Milne’s manager at Dundee United, wrote in his autobiography: “If I had an outstanding failure then it was Ralph Milne.
“He should have been playing in World Cups. He should have won a bundle of Scotland international honours.
“It was a tragedy that the boy was not playing for his country all the time.
“He had tremendous talent — and I failed with him.”
Poet and author Gary Robertson — who wrote Milne’s autobiography What’s it All About Ralphie: The Ralph Milne Story — said Milne should have been one of Scotland’s greats.
He said: “It was a privilege and an honour both to watch Ralph as a player in that great team and to get to know him as a man.
“The things he could do with a ball were just brilliant, but he was a great character with a wonderful sense of humour.
“He should have been one of Scotland’s greats and it is a shame that it never happened, but he gave us plenty of memories nonetheless.”
Milne left United in January 1987 to join Charlton Athletic.
He also had stints at Bristol City, West Ham and in Hong Kong.
He was inducted into United’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
United chairman Stephen Thompson said: “It was a privilege to have known Ralph and he will be remembered fondly and missed sadly by Arabs everywhere.”
The club plans to hold a minute’s silence before their game against Kilmarnock on Saturday.