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Monday, November 1, 1999 Published at 23:02 GMT

World: Americas

NFL legend dies

Payton entered the NFL Hall of Fame as the all-time rushing leader

One of American football's most famous former players, Walter Payton, has died from a rare liver illness at the age of 45.

Payton, who was the National Football League's all-time leading rusher, was awaiting a liver transplant after announcing in February that he was suffering from primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Payton played 13 seasons for the Chicago Bears and ran for a career record 16,726 yards. He averaged 4.4 yards on 3,838 carries with 110 touchdowns.

[ image: Payton announced in February he was suffering from a rare liver disease]
Payton announced in February he was suffering from a rare liver disease
He also caught 492 passes for 4,538 yards and 15 scores.

The player nicknamed "Sweetness" for his graceful and elusive moves set the NFL one-game rushing record of 275 yards against Minnesota in 1977. The Bears retired his jersey number, 34.

Payton, who entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993, rushed for a career-best 1,852 yards in the 1977 season and led the Bears to their only Super Bowl in 1985.

He decided to go public about his illness in February after questions were asked about his jaundiced appearance and loss of weight.

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