Former Ireland international, Alfie Hale, has paid tribute to Waterford great Noel Griffin, who died at the weekend.

The defender was part of the famous Blues side to win their first League of Ireland title in 1966, and Griffin secured another league medal two years later.

Former team-mate, Hale, paid tribute to the man that he called "Mr Reliable" – as well as playing together at Waterford, the two men played on the same Ireland amateur side that faced the Netherlands in the late 1950s.

Griffin is renowned throughout Waterford as the man who kept George Best scoreless when the sides met in the European Cup clash in 1968.

The stalwart defender was tasked with keeping the United legend quiet as the European Cup champions arrived in Dublin, and while Best did not score in the game, United went on to win 3-1 in the game that was moved to the capital.

"Noel was not only a tremendous player, but a great guy, who gave so much to the game," said former Ireland international, Hale, speaking to the Waterford News & Star

"He was a remarkable defender. He was an all rounder who could play at right-back or left-back and was part of the first ever Waterford FC winning squad of 1965/66 where he played at centre back. 

"He was a great player that stuck with the club during the struggling period under Paddy Coad to the successful period in the mid-60s.

"He was part of all the six winning league titles that came to Waterford but was part of the first one which was the vital one. 

"I think that his League of Ireland career was star studded in many ways because when we played Manchester United in 1968 in Lansdowne Road, he was picked by Vinny Maguire at right-back to mark George Best and he was brilliant that night. It didn't surprise us because he was by far the fastest player in the club.

"He wasn’t a player for the limelight and there wasn’t many of his type around. I read recently that Johnny Giles picked his best Manchester United team on Off the Ball recently where he picked Denis Irwin at right back and Tony Dunne at left-back, well for me, Noel was better than Dunne. He was a fabulous player.

"The remarkable thing for me about him was there was only one substitute back in those days and Noel was probably the player that you could have depended on week in week out. He was a great man who helped Nish Barnes as kitman. I’d sum him up as Mr Reliable."

Waterford paid tribute to their former player on social media, saying: "Waterford FC is saddened to hear of the passing of Blues legend Noel Griffin. Noel represented the Blues against Manchester United in our European Cup game '68."

Griffin’s son, Robbie, was a soccer scholarship student at UCD, representing the College for several seasons in the League of Ireland, before following in his father’s footsteps by playing for Waterford as well St Patrick’s Athletic.