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The BBC's Neil Bennett
"Only Sir Stanley had a cup final named after him."
 real 28k

Former Stoke chairman Peter Coates
"To me and many people of my age, there has never been life without Stanley Matthews"
 real 28k

Former Blackpool and England player Jimmy Armfield
"He was a man who reached for the stars and yet managed to keep his feet on the ground"
 real 28k

Friday, 3 March, 2000, 17:31 GMT
Final farewell to Sir Stan
The cortege
The funeral cortege passes a statue to Sir Stanley
Some 100,000 fans have turned out to pay their last respects to footballing legend Sir Stanley Matthews.

The nation's farewell was led by the people of Stoke-on-Trent but was shared by fans around the world.

The hearse containing Sir Stanley's coffin, surrounded by red and white wreaths, was driven to St Peter's Church in the city.

Football legends Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Gordon Banks acted as pallbearers.

He was a reminder of heroic times, of days in the sun.

Former Stoke chairman Peter Coates
Former Stoke City chairman Peter Coates paid tribute to Sir Stanley, describing him as a left-over of halcyon days of good sportsmanship and skill.

"He was a reminder of heroic times, of days in the sun, he said, adding that Sir Stanley had been a "Peter Pan" figure, who was still playing well, aged 50.

Jimmy Armfield, who played alongside Sir Stanley for Blackpool and England, said he had all the trappings of a champion.

Gordon Banks
Former Stoke and England keeper Gordon Banks wipes away a tear
"He was a man who could reach for the stars and yet managed to keep his feet on the ground," he said.

Mr Armfield said: "He was always fit, giving of his best and still striving long after others had hung up their boots."

Earlier the cortege drove sedately through the stadium of his beloved Stoke City, where the coffin was applauded by fans, some of whom broke into a chorus of "There's only one Stanley Matthews".

The funeral cortege then left the Britannia Stadium began its 14-mile journey into the centre of Stoke.

Fans cheered as Sir Stanley made his last lap of honour
The hearse contained a special wreath in the shape of a Stoke football shirt, with Sir Stanley's old number seven on the back.

The route was lined with fans, and the hearse passed the ruins of Stoke's former Victoria Ground, where the "Wizard of Dribble" played hundreds of games.

Parade of greats

As the cortege travelled through the city centre, it passed a bronze statue to the city's favourite son, where it stopped for a minute's silence.

Former soccer greats including Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Gordon Banks were waiting in pouring rain when coffin of the first knight of English football arrived at the church.

Sir Stanley Matthews
Sir Stanley dazzled in the 1953 FA Cup Final
Sports Minister Kate Hoey joined the mourners, as did Football Association chairman Geoff Thompson and Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association.

Sir Stanley, who was capped 54 times for England, died in hospital last Wednesday at the age of 85.

He turned professional with Stoke aged 17 and made 710 Football League appearances for Stoke and Blackpool.

His career with Stoke, Blackpool and England spanned more than 30 years until his final game five days after his 50th birthday.

City tour

The cortege paused at Sir Stanley's old house and his former school, St Luke's Primary, on Bucknall New Road.

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
Following the funeral at St Peter's Church, there was a private cremation ceremony.

The day will be full of reminiscences of the 1953 Cup Final, the so-called Matthews Final, in which Sir Stanley helped Blackpool stage a remarkable comeback to defeat Bolton.

The respectful atmosphere in the town contrasted sharply with the scenes last weekend at Wigan Athletic's JJB Stadium, where Stoke fans attacked police and rival supporters shortly after the minute's silence at the start of the match.

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See also:

24 Feb 00 |  Football
Football world mourns Matthews
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
24 Feb 00 |  Football
Fans mourn Sir Stanley
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