Jimmy Armfield, the manager who took Leeds United to a European Cup final, has died at the age of 82 following a long battle with cancer.
His family has confirmed he died at Trinity Hospice - a charity which he represented as its president - early this morning, paying tribute to their beloved family man.
A statement from the family said: “After a long and courageous battle, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and father-in-law Jimmy Armfield, has passed away peacefully surrounded by his immediate family.
“At this time we are still in shock as we begin the grieving process. We know Jimmy was a public figure, but the family respectfully ask for privacy at this time.
“We have many wonderful messages of love and support, for which we are grateful, and moved by all the kind words.
“We would also like to thank all the magnificent and dedicated NHS staff who have kept Jimmy, and the family, as well as possible over the ten years of his illness.
“During the last few days Trinity Hospice in Blackpool made a big difference to Jimmy as he slipped away, pain free at last.
“Jimmy had two great loves, first and foremost was his family, to which he was devoted and loved dearly. The other was football, especially Blackpool, England and his colleagues at the PFA.
“Once again, the family extends its thanks as we try to come to terms in a world without Jimmy.”
Armfield will forever go down in Blackpool FC folklore as the club’s most cherished former player.
He famously played the whole of his Football League career at Blackpool, usually at right back.
In a playing career that spanned 17 years, he played 627 games in all competitions, scored six goals, and spent a decade as the club’s captain.
David Houston, chief executive of Trinity Hospice, said: “It is a huge understatement to say that we will miss Jim.
“To Trinity Hospice he was our president, our most loyal supporter and an ambassador across the entire community over many years.
“He leaves an astonishing legacy and I know all the staff, trustees and volunteers here would want me to say that it was an immense privilege to be able to care for him, and his family, over the past few days.”
He also represented the England national team 43 times between 1959 and 1966, and captained them in 15 games.
He was a member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad - but only received his medal in 2009, 43 years on from the famous triumph - having been one of 11 reserves that didn’t feature in the final against West Germany.
But it is his time spent wearing the famous tangerine for what he will be most fondly remembered.
On December 27, 1954, Armfield made the first of 627 appearances in a Blackpool shirt away at Portsmouth.
He played his final game for Blackpool on May 1, 1971, in front of a crowd of over 30,000 against Manchester United at Bloomfield Road, in what would be the last game played by Blackpool in the top flight of English football for almost 40 years.
He had been awarded a testimonial match in the previous year on the day of his 35th birthday in a game between Blackpool and an International XI side in front of a crowd of almost 17,000.
Not long after hanging up his boots, Armfield became manager of Bolton Wanderers in 1971 and led them to promotion as Third Division champions.
In 1974, he took the helm at Leeds United replacing Brian Clough, and led them to the European Cup Final in which they lost 2–0 to Bayern Munich.
More recently Armfield would have been best known now for his work for BBC Radio 5 Live, something he carried out for more than 35 years.
When he returned to commentary duties with the BBC in October 2008 after time off battling cancer, he found a note waiting for him at the media reception of Bolton’s Reebok Stadium.
It was from Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton, it simply read: “Welcome back, Jimmy. We have missed you”.
And despite having to slow down in recent years, he was back on the airwaves as recently as January 2017 to pay tribute to Graham Taylor.