Sir Bobby Charlton and Gordon Banks led tributes to their fellow England World Cup winner Ray Wilson, who has died aged 83.
Wilson became a national hero along with his team-mates when England beat West Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final at Wembley on July 30 1966.
Charlton said Wilson’s death was “awful news” that saddened him and wife Lady Norma, adding: “Ray was an excellent team-mate at international level for many years and a close friend.
“We shared some wonderful memories throughout our career and I had the pleasure of being his room-mate. Ray was a great man and he will be missed by so many people.
“Our thoughts are with Ray’s wife, Pat, and their family during this difficult time.”
Wilson, who spent his best playing days at Huddersfield and Everton, was capped 63 times by England from 1960 to 1968. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2004 and died on Tuesday evening at a Huddersfield care home, Everton said.
“It’s very, very sad, horrible news,” former England goalkeeper Banks told Press Association Sport. “He was such a wonderful guy, on and off the field.
“He was always one of the lads who wanted to have a laugh in the dressing room and whenever we went out for a drink.
“As a player, he really was superb. He was only small, he wasn’t a big, strapping guy, but he was so quick.
“He was a world-class player without any question. There were players we just couldn’t do without, they were terrific players, and he was one of them.”
Former Chelsea and Tottenham striker Jimmy Greaves, who was also in England’s 1966 squad, paid a fond tribute.
“RIP RAY WILSON,” Greaves posted on Twitter. “We had some laughs and some very late nights through the years and even with your illness you carried on coming with us and keeping us on our toes until about six years ago.
“In many peoples eyes the best English left back ever. Goodbye old friend.”
Wilson made 283 appearances for Huddersfield between 1952 and 1964 and played a further 154 games for Everton, with whom he won the FA Cup in 1966.
“Huddersfield Town is devastated to learn of the passing of World Cup winner Ramon ‘Ray’ Wilson MBE at the age of 83,” read a Huddersfield statement.
“Ray is arguably the most successful and best-known player ever to pull on a Huddersfield Town shirt, having been a key member of England’s World Cup-winning team in 1966.”
Everton said Wilson would be remembered as one of the club’s “giants”.
“Everton Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ray Wilson,” read a club statement.
“Unquestionably one of the finest footballers to wear the royal blue jersey, Ray passed away on Tuesday evening, aged 83, at The Bell House care home in Huddersfield.”
Wilson featured in a formidable back four for Sir Alf Ramsey’s England when they became world champions in 1966, lining up at left-back alongside fellow defenders Bobby Moore, Jack Charlton and George Cohen.
The Football Association said Wilson was “a wonderful player who was so well thought of across the game”.
Former England striker Gary Lineker posted on Twitter: “Sorry to hear that Ray Wilson has passed away. One of our very few World Cup winners.”
Professional Footballers’ Association’s chief executive Gordon Taylor added: “One of Yorkshire’s finest sons who will be much missed and never forgotten!”