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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 February, 2004, 08:23 GMT
John Charles dies
John Charles
John Charles was dubbed the "Gentle Giant" by Italian fans
Wales and Leeds football legend John Charles has died at the age of 72.

He was admitted to hospital in January after feeling unwell prior to an appearance on Italian television.

He underwent two operations in Milan and had part of his foot amputated due to serious blood circulation problems before being flown back to England.

Charles, who played as a striker or centre-half, also starred for Italian giants Juventus and was never booked or sent off in his career.

"John was without question the greatest footballer produced from Wales," said Football Association of Wales general secretary David Collins.

"His all round ability in the air and on the ground made him equally at home as a centre-half and centre-forward. Indeed, he could play in any position.

"He was the perfect ambassador for Wales and the great game that is football. Our thoughts are with his wife, Glenda, and his family at this very sad time."

Charles joined Leeds when he was only 17, scoring more than 150 goals in eight years, including 42 in the 1953-4 season.

He moved to Italian giants Juventus for a then record fee of 67,000 in 1957 and scored 93 goals in 155 matches.

John Charles
Charles collapsed prior to an appearance on Italian television
Dubbed the "Gentle Giant" by Italian fans, he also netted 15 goals in 38 appearances for Wales.

Awarded the CBE in 2001, Charles, who also had spells with Roma and Cardiff, played in the last Wales team to qualify for the World Cup, starring in the 1958 Finals.

In 2002, he was made a vice president of the Football Association of Wales.

Swansea-born Charles passed away at Wakefield's Pinderfields Hospital in the early hours of Saturday.

Bob Harris, co-writer of the autobiography 'King John', said: "The end was very peaceful."

It was while promoting the book in Milan on 7 January that Charles collapsed before a TV show with a heart attack.




SEE ALSO:
Soccer legend 'coming home'
08 Feb 04  |  Wales
Soccer hero loses part of foot
07 Feb 04  |  Wales


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