Tributes have poured in for Birmingham City legend Gil Merrick, who died on Wednesday, aged 88.
Officials and fans of both Aston Villa and Blues hailed the former goalkeeper as news of his passing emerged.
He was described by former Villa chairman Doug Ellis as one of the “great gentlemen” of football.
“I knew Gil very well,” he said. “He was a great goalkeeper, devoted to Birmingham City, and a great gentleman.”
Blues vice-president Michael Wiseman said the club would pay tribute to Merrick at Sunday’s home game against Wolves, with a minute’s applause planned to allow fans to pay their respects.
Mr Wiseman, the son of the late Blues chairman Jack Wiseman, said he was glad Merrick lived long enough to see the Railway End at St Andrew’s renamed in his honour.
“It’s a very sad loss and I believe we are going to make a tribute to him at the Wolves game,” Mr Wiseman said. “He was a very high-profile character.
“I am just delighted we paid tribute to him by naming a stand after him when he was present. Hopefully he had many happy memories of the club.”
BRMB sports presenter Tom Ross hailed Merrick as “the greatest player ever to play for Birmingham City”.
“It’s a sad day for football as he was well respected throughout the game,” he said. “He was an absolute legend. There will be a lot of arguments over who is the greatest Blues player but, with more than 700 appearances, it had to be him.
“He was a Birmingham City lad through and through.”
Saddened Blues fans also paid their own tributes.
Alan Downes, aged 60 and from Sutton Coldfield, said: “He was my hero. I saw him in the 1950s playing for England.“Merrick and Trevor Francis are two of Blues’ greatest players.”
And lifelong fan Ray Tomkinson, aged 61 and from Shirley, said: “As a player he was a legend. And I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of goalkeepers who have gone back and managed a club successfully.”