MUSSELBURGH-BORN striker Thomas ‘Tommy’ White, a centre forward for Heart of Midlothian Football Club, has died at the age of 80.

His two older brothers Eddie and John were also professional footballers, with John, a Scottish internationalist, playing for Tottenham Hotspur’s double-winning team of 1961.

The footballing siblings had a younger sister, Jeanette.

Tommy, who was born on August 12, 1939, on Links Street, became a prominent attacker with juvenile club Musselburgh Union and spent time with Bonnyrigg Rose.

He was then recruited by Raith Rovers at the end of May 1958 and became a prolific scorer but his time at the club was shortened by two years of national service with the KOSB at Berwick and in Germany, during which he played for the British Army.

He joined St Mirren in October 1962 before moving to Hearts in November 1963, where he was called ‘Goal-a-game White’ by the local media. This was a rebuilding period for the Hearts manager Tommy Walker and Tommy White added real power to his attacking options.

In only his third game for Hearts, Tommy scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox. In his first season, he hit 29 goals in 34 competitive games.

In February 1964, Tommy took part in the Scottish international trial at Ibrox. His strike rate was outstanding and might have been greater but for a month on the sidelines after being badly injured in a car crash at Wallyford in March 1964.

Tommy returned to help Hearts finish fourth in the league and win its Summer Cup section. Hearts had to withdraw from the knockout stages of the Summer Cup to play in the New York Soccer League.

Sadly, in July 1964, Tommy’s brother John was killed by lightning at Crewes Hill Golf Club, Hendon. After this tragedy, Tommy played for his brother’s old team, Tottenham, in a memorial match against a Scotland XI.

In 1964-65, Hearts lost the league championship but only on the old goal average system to Kilmarnock. Tommy scored 13 goals in the 18 league games he played.

Tommy went to Aberdeen in May 1965 in an exchange deal for Don Kerrigan and joined Crystal Palace in 1966 before moving to Blackpool in 1968. Injury curtailed his days at the club and eventually he had an operation to repair his damaged ankles. In 1970, he joined Bury and, in two years with the club, he scored 13 league goals in just under a half-century of appearances.

Tommy played for Crewe Alexandra in 1971-72 and joined Fleetwood FC as player-manager in the summer of 1972. He then became a director of Blackpool for 12 years, acting as caretaker manager for seven games in 1990.

Tommy, who went on to become a successful hotelier in Blackpool, passed away on December 17.

A tribute on the Hearts FC website said: “The club was saddened to learn of the death of former centre forward Tommy White.

“Although he played only two seasons for the club, Tommy made a fine impression and his splendid record of 44 goals in 58 competitive appearances ranks him among the most effective marksmen ever to have worn a maroon shirt.

“Tommy White was a Hearts supporter and our sincere condolences are extended to his family and friends.”

Blackpool FC said: “Blackpool Football Club is saddened to learn of the passing of former forward Tom White at the age of 80.

“Born in Scotland, Tom joined the Seasiders from Crystal Palace in 1968 and went on to score nine goals in 34 league appearances.

“However, his affinity with the club went way beyond the pitch, becoming a director for 12 years and having a stint as caretaker manager.

“All our thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”

A funeral service takes place tomorrow (Friday) at Carleton Crematorium in Blackpool at 1.15pm. The family have asked for donations for The Jeff Astle Foundation, which was established in memory of Notts County and West Bromwich Albion player Jeff Astle as a lasting legacy to raise awareness of brain injury in sport and offer support to those affected.