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Sunday, 17 February, 2002, 23:35 GMT
Football mourns Sir Walter
England's first international manager, Sir Walter Winterbottom
Sir Walter led England in four World Cups
Sir Walter Winterbottom, the first ever manager of the English national football team, has died at the age of 89.

He passed away at Guildford's Royal Surrey County Hospital on Saturday.

He was one of the finest football men this country has ever, ever produced
Bobby Robson
Newcastle and former England manager Bobby Robson, who gained his first international cap as a player under Sir Walter, led the tributes.

"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Sir Walter," said Robson.

"When I played for him, he came to Don Howe and I and said 'I want you two to come to Lilleshall every summer and get your qualifications and stay in the game', and we responded to that.

"I kept in touch with him and he used to write me fantastic letters of support when I was the England manager.

"I'm very sad to hear of his death and it's a funeral I really must go to.

"He was a great football man, one of the finest football men this country has ever, ever produced."

He inspired so many people in the '50s as director of coaching, myself and people like Bill Nicholson and Bill Shankly
Jimmy Hill

Former England captain Jimmy Armfield described Sir Walter, who reigned from 1946 to 1962, as "ahead of his time".

"What he did is put down the first coaching book in this country and it provided the skeleton for all the others," said Armfield.

"He believed in a coaching system, so he was ahead of his time really."

Former Coventry manager and chairman Jimmy Hill agreed that Sir Walter had helped revolutionise coaching in this country.

"He inspired so many people in the '50s as director of coaching, myself and people like Bill Nicholson and Bill Shankly," said Hill.

"Walter was inspirational and innovative in that no-one knew before that you could get players and train them professionally."

Sir Walter was England's longest-serving manager and steered his country through four World Cups before handing over to Sir Alf Ramsey.

He always said that the team he had was as good a bunch of players you could put together at that time, so he always felt he was privileged
Jimmy Armfield

Born in Oldham on 31 January, 1913, he was a half-back for Manchester United until a spine disease ended his playing career during the 1937-38 season.

He was appointed national director of coaching in 1946, aged just 33, and was officially named manager in May 1947.

Sir Walter was awarded an OBE in 1963 for services to football, receiving a CBE in 1972 and his knighthood in 1978 for services to sport.

The FA added their tribute to Sir Walter, saying he was a "great servant to football" and would be missed by everyone in the game.

FA spokesman Adrian Bevington said: "We are deeply saddened to learn of Sir Walter Winterbottom's death.

"He was a great servant to football, particularly in the area of coaching, where he was renowned as an innovator in the immediate post-war years."

BBC football correspondent Mike Ingham
"Walter helped lay the foundations for 1966"
Ex-England captain Jimmy Armfield
"Walter was ahead of his time"
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson
"England has lost a very fine person"
England legend Tom Finney
"He had tremendous success with England"
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