Wales

Ex-Wales and Spurs defender Mel Hopkins dies, aged 75

Brazilian forward Garrincha and Welsh defender Mel Hopkins during the 1958 World Cup quarter final in Goteborg, Sweden
Image caption Mel Hopkins was part of the team who took Wales to the quarter finals of the 1958 World Cup

Welsh international and Tottenham Hotspur star in the 1950s and 60s, Mel Hopkins has died at the age of 75.

The defender was part of the Welsh side to take Wales through to the 1958 World Cup quarter finals against Brazil in Sweden.

Born in Ystrad Rhondda, miner's son Hopkins turned professional for Spurs in 1952, with 240 club appearances, and winning 34 caps for Wales.

He died on Monday in hospice at Worthing, Sussex after a long illness.

His death was confirmed on the Tottenham Hotspur website, which played tribute to Hopkins as "one of the best full backs in the country".

Players at Spurs' match with Everton at White Hart Lane at the weekend will wear black armbands.

"It is with great regret that we announce the death of Mel Hopkins, our former Welsh international full-back who played with distinction for the Club between 1952-64," said the club.

'Automatic choice'

"Mel joined us as an amateur in May, 1951, and became a full professional a year later. He made his senior debut in October, 1952, and by the mid-50s was recognised as one of the best full-backs in the country.

Image caption Hopkins played 240 games for Spurs before moving to Brighton and Hove (Back row, 2nd from right)

"An extremely capable defender who also had the pace and vision to support the attack, Mel made his international debut for Wales in April, 1956, and quickly became an automatic choice.

"We extend our sincere condolences to the family of Mel Hopkins at this very sad time."

After 12 years as a professional for Spurs, he joined Brighton and Hove Albion in 1964. He played 58 matches for the club, helping them to win the then Division Two championship in 1965.

He later playing for Ballymena, Canterbury City and Bradford Park Avenue.

In 2003, Hopkins was given a merit award by the Football Association of Wales.

Brighton and Hove Albion said the "thoughts of all at the club were with the Hopkins family at this sad time" and that his funeral will take place on Friday 29, October, at Worthing Crematorium.

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