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

Emlyn Hughes, former England player
"For me, Sir Stanley was one of the best of all time"
 real 28k

Sir Tom Finney, Former England Player
"He was certainly the greatest player of my era"
 real 28k

Sir Walter Winterbottom, Former England Manager
"He had that unique gift"
 real 28k

Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 15:24 GMT
Fans mourn Sir Stanley

Fans at statue
Fans remember at Sir Stanley's statue in Stoke


Football fans have left flowers and scarves as a tribute to England legend Sir Stanley Matthews.

The former Stoke and Blackpool winger died in hospital aged 85 on Wednesday after a short illness.

Both Blackpool and Stoke city councils are to open books of condolences to football's first knight.

Tributes Fans leave tributes at Sir Stanley's statue in Hanley
Flags were flying at half-mast at Stoke's Britannia Stadium and Blackpool's Bloomfield Road ground.

There will be a minute's silence before every game this weekend. Officials are also considering a tribute to Sir Stanley at Wembley when the national stadium is redeveloped.

The Queen said she would be sending a private tribute to Sir Stanley's family.

At the Britannia Stadium on Thursday, several floral tributes lay in the shadow of the main stand, with moving testimonies from fans.

One message read: "The world as well as football has lost a true gentleman. From Norma and Geoff (neighbours)."

A glorious career
54 England caps
710 Football League appearances
Twice European Footballer of the Year
Played top-flight football aged 50 years and five days
A red and white Stoke City shirt had been hung on the entrance to the club offices with the tribute in black marker pen: "Stanley Matthews, from hero to legend ... Stoke's favourite son."

Outside the ticket office, supporters hung a makeshift banner saying: "We love you Sir Stan."

A steady stream of floral tributes and Stoke City memorabilia was also laid at the Sir Stanley Matthews statue in Hanley, erected in 1987 as a lasting monument to the player's contribution to the town.

Hero

Retired railway worker Sam Rhodes, 69, went to the same Wellington Road School as Sir Stanley.

"When I was at school in the 40s he was in his prime," he said. "He was a hero then and is a hero now. There can't be enough tributes in my estimation."

Football stars past and present have also paid tribute to Sir Stanley.

fans Fans pay their respects to Sir Stanley
After last night's 0-0 draw at Wembley, England captain Alan Shearer said Sir Stanley had been "synonymous with English football".

Sir Tom Finney, Sir Stanley's England team-mate, said he had many great memories of the man who had such a startling impact on the game.

Startling impact

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

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

"I can recall on so many occasions him having great games for England."

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.


To me, Sir Stanley ranked alongside George Best as the best players there ever were in the game.
Emlyn Hughes
"Wingers in those days just stayed on the wing and Stan had that unique way of dribbling past people."

Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "Sir Stanley was, and will always, remain one of the all-time sporting greats. He was not only one of the finest players this country has ever seen, he was also a model sportsman who played the game as it should be played, never booked or sent off once.

"Football fans the world over have this evening lost one of their heroes."

Sir Stanley's funeral will be arranged by Stoke City Football Club and his family.

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See also:
24 Feb 00 |  Football
Motson's boyhood memories of Matthews
24 Feb 00 |  Football
A Blackpool fan remembers Sir Stan
24 Feb 00 |  Football
The Matthews Final
23 Feb 00 |  Football
The first gentleman of soccer
23 Feb 00 |  Football
Sir Stanley in pictures
23 Feb 00 |  Football
Tributes for 'magical' Sir Stanley

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