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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 February, 2004, 11:39 GMT
Juve lead Charles tributes
John Charles getting ready to play for Leeds
Juventus vice-president Roberto Bettega has paid tribute to John Charles, who has died at the age of 72.

The Welsh striker played for Juve for five years and Bettega said: "We mourn a great champion and a great man.

"He is a person who interpreted the spirit of Juventus in the best possible manner and he represented the sport in the best and purest manner.

"We are thinking of his wife Glenda and of the children of the 'Gigante Buono', who we will never forget."

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

"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."

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

He was probably one of the greatest players in the world
Childhood friend Terry Medwin
"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."

Former Leeds team-mate Jack Charlton said Charles had awesome presence as a centre-forward.

"The first time I saw John, I couldn't believe the size of him," said Charlton.

"What a big strong man he was. They called him 'the Gentle Giant'.

"He was the best header of a ball I ever saw in my life. They were heavy balls when it rained but he knew what he was doing.

Fellow Welsh international and childhood friend Terry Medwin said Charles could have excelled at almost any sport.

"John always looked like a Greek god," Medwin told BBC Radio Five Live.

"He could have become a boxer, a rugby player. He could have been anything.

"I wouldn't just say he was the greatest player in the Welsh side, he was probably one of the greatest players in the world at that time, even though Pele was around.

"John was outstanding as a schoolboy when I played alongside him. He was just a joy (to be with).

"While he enjoyed living in Yorkshire and playing for Leeds, being from Swansea, he loved to be with the Welsh lads.

"At that time there were six or seven boys from Swansea in the Welsh team."


WATCH AND LISTEN
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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