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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 February, 2004, 08:23 GMT
John Charles dies
John Charles
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.

There will be a minute's silence for Charles before Saturday's Premiership match between Leeds and Manchester United, at Old Trafford.

Fans at Cardiff's Ninian Park will pay their respects before the Division One game against Sunderland as will crowds at every Welsh Premier ground.

The Welshman, who also starred for Italian giants Juventus, was never booked or sent off in his career.

Former Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton remarked on how he was overawed by Charles when he arrived at Leeds as a player.

"I had just arrived at Elland Road and they were all talking about John Charles," said Charlton.

A powerfully built man, John was truly a gentle giant and was loved and admired by all who saw him play
Leeds United statement

"He was quick, he was strong, he could run with the ball. He was half the team in himself. He was tremendous."

Leeds issued a club statement expressing their sadness at the death of Charles.

"He was widely regarded as one of the greatest players the game of football has known," it read.

"A powerfully built man, John was truly a gentle giant and was loved and admired by all who saw him play."

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
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.

BBC Sport's Gerald Sinstadt
"For Wales, he was simply the best"

John Charles
"A guy came to the door from Juventus, but I didn't want to go"


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