Promotion winning former Stoke City captain Eddie Stuart has died at the age of 83.
The defender arrived at the Victoria Ground from Wolves for £8,000 in 1962 and immediately skippered an experienced team including Stanley Matthews to the old Division Two title.
Teammate Tony Allen remembers the fearless South African as a born leader – and terrific footballer.
Allen, now aged 74, said: “Eddie was a smashing player and a wonderful team player.
For a big bloke he was very quick too. He really was excellent.
“He had won everything at Wolves and, to be honest, I was surprised when Waddo (manager Tony Waddington) was able to sign him for us. I didn’t think we had a chance.
“He was a terrific captain. He could give you a rollocking, but only if he needed to.We had quite an old team on paper but what a team it was.
“He took me under his wing a little and we were big mates who would go out together. I couldn’t say a bad word about him whatsoever.”
Stuart was born in Middelburg, South Africa, in 1931 and won the South African Cup with Johannesburg Rangers at the age of just 16.
He was spotted by Stan Cullis when Wolves toured his home country in 1951 and emerged a key man in a golden era at Molineux.
He helped Wolves win the First Division championship in 1954, 1958 and 1959 and added an FA Cup winners’ medal to his tally in 1960.
Yet he had almost died in 1952 when he picked up a tropical virus in Egypt during a stopover following a trip home.
Historian Tony Matthews wrote: “Stuart was a fine footballer.
As hard as they come, he was quick, competitive when required and a battler to the end. He tackled hard and fair.”
Stuart played 71 times for Stoke in all, scoring twice, before moving to Tranmere Rovers for £4,000 in 1964.
He later joined Stockport County before moving into non-League circles with Worcester City where he became player manager.
In retirement he ran hairdressing shops in Wolverhampton, Codsall and Newcastle before returning to South Africa in 1996.
He eventually moved back to Britain and died in Wrexham on the 4th of November, following a long illness.