It was with great sadness that we received news this morning that Jimmy Armfield CBE had passed away, aged 82.
PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor led tributes to his close friend, describing Jimmy as ‘a national hero and football legend’.
Jimmy worked at the PFA for over two decades as a Coaching Consultant, Taylor said: “He will be sadly missed by all who knew him and the football world is much diminished with our loss.”
Taylor added: "He had time for everybody and made the world a better place with his love for life and all his many activities for his charities, hospitals, his church and his devotion to his wife Anne, his sons Duncan and John and their wives and his grandchildren."
In a statement this morning, his family said: "After a long and courageous battle, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and father-in-law Jimmy Armfield, has passed away peacefully surrounded by his immediate family.
"At this time we are still in shock as we begin the grieving process. We know Jimmy was a public figure, but the family respectfully ask for privacy at this time.
"We have many wonderful messages of love and support, for which we are grateful, and moved by all the kind words.
"We would also like to thank all the magnificent and dedicated NHS staff who have kept Jimmy, and the family, as well as possible over the ten years of his illness."
Jimmy played a club record 627 times for Blackpool over 17 years and was the club's captain for more than a decade.
Credited as the ‘first over-lapping right-back’ he made 43 international appearances for England and captained the Three Lions 15 times.
He was made England captain in 1962 and looked set to skipper Alf Ramsey's team at the World Cup in 1966 but a toe injury meant he did not play as England went on to win the tournament.
As part of the squad Jimmy was given a winners' medal by FIFA 43 years later.
As well as his remarkable achievements as a player, Armfield enjoyed success as a manager. In 1973, he won promotion to the old Second Division with Bolton Wanderers.
Two years later he led Leeds United to a European Cup final, where they were beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich.
Jimmy worked as a football writer for the Blackpool Gazette and Daily Express and worked as a radio summariser for BBC 5 Live for over 30 years. For many he was the voice of football.
Tributes from within the game have flooded in from across football:
Sir Bobby Charlton, first played alongside Armfield in an army side during national service. He said Armfield went on to become regarded as "the best right-back in Europe in the early 1960s".
"As an opponent, team-mate and friend he was, without doubt, one of the most honest and genuine gentlemen I had the good fortune to meet," he added.
"I have missed listening to his authoritative radio commentaries and now I will miss seeing Mr Blackpool around the scene."
Sir Geoff Hurst, who played with Armfield twice in the run-up to the 1966 World Cup, said: "Jimmy was a great part of our group at the World Cup, one of the great full-backs, and one of the nicest guys you could wish to meet.
"I got to know him more after the World Cup, playing golf and at the reunions. Just an absolutely super guy and a sad loss."
Phil McNulty, the BBC's chief football writer: "This is such sad news. Not just a former England captain but also a wonderful broadcaster and an absolute gentleman. One of the nicest, most genuine men you could meet."