Football fanatic Jimmy Milligan was given a dream send-off by Sheffield United – with his funeral cortege invited to pause at Bramall Lane as a club official presented a signed football.
Season ticket holder Jimmy, aged 61, from Heeley, had supported the club all his life and followed the Blades home and away.
His support never wavered, even after suffering kidney failure which meant he needed dialysis when attending games.
The club repaid his decades of support with the gesture yesterday – and funeral director Michael Fogg said it was the first time he had known either United or Wednesday to grant such a request.
The stop-off at Bramall Lane completed the football theme Jimmy had planned before his death, which also included being buried wearing a full Blades strip and having his coffin covered in a Sheffield United flag.
Sue, Jimmy’s wife of 38 years, said: “My husband was a mad Sheffield United fan – from being young he used to go to matches on his own and he was only 12 years old when he went to his first away game.
“He was born in Sheffield although his dad was Scottish, so he also followed Celtic.
“Jimmy was a season ticket- holder until he was diagnosed with kidney failure seven years ago so he found it more difficult.
“But he managed to go to watch them at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and Wembley twice. T
“he club were fabulous – they arranged for him to go to the Red Cross room so he could have dialysis.”
Fellow Blades fan Sue, aged 58, who met Jimmy as a teenager when her parents ran a pub in Heeley, added: “My husband’s last wish was to go back to Bramall Lane for a final time. The funeral directors arranged it and it’s fantastic.
“The club also had his photograph and a message on the scoreboard at Bramall Lane at the home match last Saturday.”
Jimmy, who used to work as a pipe fitter, died due to infection after having a transplant operation at the Northern General Hospital.
After pausing at Bramall Lane, the cortege travelled to City Road cemetery, where a service was held followed by burial.
Funeral director Michael Fogg said: “It was certainly a very unusual funeral.
“In 35 years, I’ve never known one of the football clubs to make such a gesture.
“Jimmy lived and breathed football – his home is like a shrine to Sheffield United.
“He wanted to be dressed in the United strip, holding a set of rosary beads.
“It seemed appropriate, they’ve needed some praying for recently.”
As well as the football theme, Jimmy also chose a vintage hearse dating back to 1910 to take him on his final journey, Michael added.