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The BBC's Mike Ingham
"His name is symbolic of the beauty of the game"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 20:36 GMT
Tributes for 'magical' Sir Stanley

Sir Stanley Matthews
Sir Stanley had a "startling impact" on the game

The footballing world has paid fond tribute to former Blackpool and Stoke legend Sir Stanley Matthews.

Sir Tom Finney, his England compatriot, said he had many great memories of the man who had such a startling impact on the game.

"Stan was the greatest in my era in terms of close control," he remembered.

"In those days you weren't expected to go back and tackle and his game was attacking the full-back.

To me, Sir Stanley ranked alongside George Best as the best players there ever were in the game.
Emlyn Hughes
"I can recall on so many occasions him having great games for England.

"Shortly after West Germany won the World Cup in 1954 we beat them at Wembley and Stanley gave the left back an awful roasting that day.

"He was a humble man and he never got carried away by how well he played."

Former England manager Sir Walter Winterbottom said: "Stan was very fit and one thing he had was that he was very quick off the mark.

"Wingers in those days just stayed on the wing and Stan had that unique way of dribbling past people."

Sir Bobby Charlton: Magical player Sir Bobby Charlton: "Magical player"
Former England and Liverpool player Emlyn Hughes said: "He was a superstar, a super player - an absolute gentleman. He would have been great in any era.

"To me, Sir Stanley ranked alongside George Best as the best players there ever were in the game."

The news of his death was announced shortly before England's friendly against Argentina at Wembley.

The ground fell completely silent as a minute's silence was observed by the crowd and players, who wore black armbands.

Following the match, which ended 0-0, captain Alan Shearer told Sky News: "We heard the news just before the game and wanted to put on a good show in tribute - it's just a shame we couldn't get a win for him.

"All the lads send their sympathy to his family and friends."

Sir Stanley's friend, former England manager Bobby Robson, said: "He was one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

"He ranks alongside players like Pele, Maradona and Cruyff - and he was one of ours."

He wore his country's shirt with pride, dazzled millions with his skill and epitomised sportsmanship, decency and integrity.
Sports minister Kate Hoey
Sir Stanley was the first Englishman to be named European Footballer of the Year, a feat he achieved twice.

During a remarkable 33-year career he won 54 England caps - and played in another 30 wartime internationals - and he remains the only man to have played in the old First Division as a 50-year-old.

Sir Bobby Charlton said: "I loved him. I loved Stanley Matthews. Magic, absolutely magical player.

"He just attracted people. You had to go and see him - magical player."

Karl Oyston, chairman of Blackpool Football Club, whose tangerine shirt Sir Stanley wore so many times, said: "He was a legend, and obviously the most famous footballer ever to play for the club.

"He meant so much to so many people and will be sadly missed."

The government was quick to react to the news.

Culture secretary Chris Smith said: "He was a footballing great. There was really no-one like him. I think someone who just brought a bit of magic to the game."

Sports Minister Kate Hoey added: "More than any other player, Stanley Matthews represented all that was great about the Beautiful Game.

"He wore his country's shirt with pride, dazzled millions with his skill and epitomised sportsmanship, decency and integrity."

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See also:
24 Feb 00 |  Football
Football world mourns Matthews
23 Feb 00 |  Football
The first gentleman of soccer
Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.