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Charlton leads tributes after death of great Jimmy Armfield

 

By Carl Markham

World Cup winner and Blackpool great Jimmy Armfield's death at the age of 82 is being mourned across football.

Tributes flooded in from team-mates and colleagues hailing the loss of a "true gentleman" and "national hero".

Armfield, who was diagnosed with cancer for a second time last year, played 627 matches in 17 years for his only club and was part of Sir Alf Ramsey's victorious England squad in 1966.

"I am deeply saddened by the death of Jimmy Armfield," former England team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton said in a statement.

"As an opponent, team-mate and friend he was one of the most honest and genuine gentlemen I had the fortune to meet."

Armfield was one of two Blackpool players along with Alan Ball named in the 1966 World Cup squad, although injury denied him an appearance.

Only players who were on the pitch in the final received winners' medals, but that was rectified 43 years later when Armfield was given his medal.

He was capped 43 times for England, 15 as captain, but he was synonymous with Blackpool, where he was skipper for 10 of his 17 years at the club.

Current Blackpool boss Gary Bowyer said: "His love for Blackpool knew no bounds, and I don't think anyone will ever come close to matching the records he set with this club.

"I could listen to him talk all day. His passion for the game rubbed off on you. I will cherish those moments we had in my office with a cup of tea. The game has lost one of the true greats."

Armfield was inducted into Blackpool's Hall of Fame in 2006 and Bloomfield Road's newly constructed South Stand was named in his honour in 2010, with a statue commissioned by the Blackpool Supporters' Association erected outside the ground.

In 2009 he was made a CBE for services to the Lancashire community. Flags were flown at half-mast in the town yesterday.

He managed Bolton and Leeds before moving into broadcasting, where he spent over 30 years working for the BBC.

Greg Clarke, chairman of the Football Association, said: "His connection to the FA continued after he hung up his boots, and his insight and expertise was always gratefully received."

Armfield's family said in a statement: "Jimmy had two great loves, first was his family, to which he was devoted and loved dearly. The other was football, especially Blackpool, England and his colleagues at the PFA.

"We are still in shock as we begin the grieving process. The family respectfully ask for privacy at this time."

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