Kevin Manning, the Isle of Man national football team’s longest-serving manager, has died aged 68 following a long illness.

A big man in stature and in respect, he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

He was in charge of the island squad for 15 years between March 1997 and June 2012, his tenure ending following that year’s Island Games in the Isle of Wight.

A strong centre-half, he played in the successful Douglas High School Old Boys side of the 1980s and later for Douglas Royal, also managing both sides. In addition he was manager at Gymnasium.

Although he made the island squad, he never actually won an Isle of Man cap in his playing days.

Kevin was in charge of the island for 110 matches, initially with Rick Holden as coach.

His proudest achievement was winning the prestigious amateur international Guinness Cup quadrangular tournament in 2000 involving the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Stephen ‘Squeak’ Corkill captained the side.

That same year, the national side pulled off a famous 1-0 Festival win against Burnley at Ballacloan.

The Isle of Man also won the 2006 Inter-League Cup when defeating Cambridgeshire in Cambridge.

Under his control, the national side made the final of the Island Games competition on two occasions, at Gotland in 1999 and Guernsey four years later, but they never managed to secure the gold medal.

Kevin worked at the Government Training Centre in Hills Meadow up until his early retirement due to his failing health.

As long time football correspondent and statistician Eric Clague said yesterday, Kevin Manning was a very popular, mild-mannered individual and a real disciplinarian as a manager.

l We will publish a further tribute to Kevin in this week’s edition of the Manx Independent, on sale now.