A LASTING tribute to Wanderers legend Nat Lofthouse is set to finally be unveiled.

The plinth for the statue is already in place at the Reebok Stadium, with the bronze statue itself set to be unveiled ahead of the club’s next home game against Queen’s Park Rangers on August 24.

The statue has been constructed in time for the striker’s 88th birthday, which will be celebrated on Wednesday, August 27.

Wanderers club chaplain Phil Mason said: “It’s going to be incredible to see. It’s been quite a journey over the last 18 months.

“What’s really been encouraging is the support we’ve had from the people of Bolton, from choosing the look of the statue through The Bolton News, to helping to raise the money.”

The statue is based on a photograph of Nat carrying a ball onto the pitch, and has been designed by artist Sean Hedges-Quinn.

The club said it is especially poignant as Nat’s final words were: “I’ve got the ball now, it’s a bit worn, but I’ve got it”.

The total cost of the project was £100,000 with Bolton residents raising £35,000. Previous appeals through The Bolton News for funding by corporate sponsors also produced a good response, Mr Mason said.

He added that the timing “could not be better”, coming hot on the heels of revelations that it was a Bolton Wanderers player — Kenny Davenport — who scored the Football League’s first every goal, and not an Aston Villa player as first thought.

He said: “I am delighted that the people of Bolton have contributed so positively to not only the shaping of what the statue was going to be like, but also contributing financially to make it happen and a lasting memorial to Nat as part of the history of this club.

“We hope that is the start of something positive going forward, the fact we did score the first ever Football League goal coinciding with the 125th anniversary and the statue, it couldn’t be better.

“It’s exciting for me, for the club, and for the people of Bolton.”