Sudden death of popular team boss leaves fans ‘heartbroken’, writes James Cracknell
Tributes have poured in for Leyton Orient manager Justin Edinburgh, who died on Saturday aged 49.
Justin, who led the club to promotion from the National League just over a month ago, has been described by fans as “a Leyton Orient hero” who “brought this club back to where it belongs” in some of the hundreds of tributes left outside The Breyer Group Stadium.
The former Tottenham Hotspur left-back’s death was confirmed by Orient at the weekend, five days after he suffered a cardiac arrest.
Orient were relegated to the National League six months before Justin took charge, following a turbulent period when the club had also faced a winding up order at the High Court. After stabilising the team he led them to a respectable 13th place in his first season, before the O’s clinched the league title on the final day of the season in April – securing their return to the Football League.
A book of condolence is open this week for fans to write personal tributes to Justin, who also led Orient to the final of the FA Trophy last month. Already hundreds of scarves, shirts, flags and flowers have been left beside the railings outside the main entrance to the club’s stadium in Oliver Road, Leyton.
Fans who left messages to Justin included Lawrence and Barbara, who said: “You made us proud of our club again and got us back to where we belong. Your legacy will live on.”
A football shirt carried a tribute from Mark and Christine Weston, who said: “Thank you for everything that you did for the club. You’ll always be in our hearts.”
O’s fan Simon also said: “Eighteen months is a short time for some but for us your time felt a lifetime. You brought our club back to where it belongs, as champions.”
Justin had previously managed other clubs including Newport County, whom he also led to promotion, and Gillingham. His playing career included spells at Southend United and Portsmouth, as well as Spurs where he lifted the FA Cup in 1991 and League Cup in 1999.
Many of the tributes left outside Orient’s stadium are from fans of other clubs, including one Spurs fan who wrote: “I hugged you in Madrid at the Champions League Final and saw you play many times. You’ll be truly missed by everyone at Spurs.”
Football shirts and scarves from clubs including Newport, Fisher Athletic, Portsmouth, Bristol Rovers, Huddersfield Town, Southampton and Norwich City have also been left as tributes.
Orient chairman Nigel Travis said: “We are completely heartbroken by this tragedy. The success that Justin brought to Leyton Orient was incredible, but more importantly the impact he had on us all as a winner and a wonderful, inspirational human being will be his legacy and will stay with us forever.”
In a personal tribute to Justin, club captain Jobi McAnuff said: “I am so grateful that I got to share some truly amazing moments with you. It was a privilege and honour to serve as your captain and those happy memories will live with me forever.
“Despite the success we had on the pitch, I will remember you even more fondly for the times we shared off it.”
The Leyton Orient Supporters’ Club bar has been open since Sunday to allow fans to sign a book of condolence. From Tuesday the book is being made available from the reception desk.
Justin Edinburgh leaves behind his wife Kerri and children Charlie and Cydnie.