Lancashire

Former England captain Jimmy Armfield dies aged 82

Jimmy Armfield Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jimmy Armfield captained England 15 times

Former England football captain Jimmy Armfield has died from cancer at the age of 82.

Armfield was capped 43 times by England, 15 of them as captain, and made a club record 627 appearances for Blackpool.

He later managed Bolton Wanderers and Leeds United, and was a BBC radio commentator for more than 35 years.

His family thanked well-wishers for their "messages of love and support".

Tributes have been posted on social media from the football world, including the FA and Match of the Day's Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer.

Sir Bobby Charlton, who played in the same Army teams as Armfield during their national service, and later alongside him for England at the 1962 World Cup in Chile, spoke of his sadness.

He said: "I knew the man as well as the player, and it was not by chance that we stayed in touch for so long after we both retired.

"I have missed listening to his authoritative radio commentaries and now I will miss seeing Mr Blackpool around the scene."

Sir Geoff Hurst, who played with Armfield twice in the run-up to the 1966 World Cup, said: "Jimmy was a great part of our group at the World Cup, one of the great full-backs, and one of the nicest guys you could wish to meet.

"I got to know him more after the World Cup, playing golf and at the reunions. Just an absolutely super guy and a sad loss."

Despite being a member of the 1966 cup-winning squad, a toe injury meant Armfield did not play as the team went on to win the tournament.

Armfield, who was born in Denton, Greater Manchester, was a team-mate of Sir Stanley Matthews at Blackpool, where he made his name as an overlapping right-back.

Armfield was never sent off during his career and was only booked once, after two fouls in an FA Cup match against Norwich City.

He later wrote: "I had played more than 500 League games by then and the referee was almost apologetic."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Armfield leads England out with Bobby Moore behind him

Armfield became manager of Bolton in 1971, and took over at Leeds in 1974, replacing Brian Clough and guiding them to a European Cup final, where they were beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich.

Leeds player Eddie Gray, who spent his entire career at the club, said Armfield "steadied the ship" and "completely turned things round" when Clough left.

"It wasn't an easy time for Jimmy to come in because the team were getting that bit older as well, but his manner, the way he conducted himself in and around the club was terrific," he said.

Former Everton and England footballer Peter Reid, who played under Armfield at Bolton, also used Twitter to pay tribute.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jimmy Armfield, left, often commentated alongside Alan Green

After leaving Leeds in 1979, Armfield started writing for the Daily Express and became a match summariser on BBC radio football commentaries, working for Radio 2 and later 5 Live. He celebrated his 30th year on the BBC's airwaves in 2009.

BBC journalists paying their respects included Football Focus presenter Dan Walker and BBC Breakfast host Sally Nugent.

John Murray, who worked alongside him on 5 Live, said he was "a popular man, a friendly man - the absolute epitome of a football man".

Armfield was made a freeman of Blackpool in 2003 and named a CBE in December 2009 for services to Lancashire.

Blackpool council leader Simon Blackburn said flags were flying at half-mast at the town hall, adding: "His impact was absolutely huge. He was a big part of the community."

In 2010, the new South Stand at Blackpool FC's Bloomfield Road ground was named in his honour, and a statue commissioned by the Blackpool Supporters' Association was erected outside a year later.

In 2007 he received successful treatment for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma but in 2016 he revealed it had returned. He died at Trinity Hospice in Blackpool.

Image copyright PA Photos
Image caption Armfield played alongside Stanley Matthews at Blackpool

His family said: "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 (Professional Footballers' Association).

"The family extends its thanks as we try to come to terms in a world without Jimmy."

Blackpool FC said: "Our heartfelt condolences go out to Jimmy's wife Anne, his two sons, Duncan and John, and the rest of the Armfield family at this time."

PFA chief Gordon Taylor, who counted Armfield as a personal friend, said he was "a national hero and football legend, Blackpool icon and captain of England, he will be sadly missed by all who knew him".

As a tribute to the resort's adopted son Blackpool Tower was lit up in Tangerine - Blackpool FC's colours - and the flag flew at half mast on council buildings.

The club is donating proceeds from its home game on Saturday against Charlton Athletic to Trinity Hospice, where Armfield spent his last days.

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