TRIBUTES have flooded in for Bolton Wanderers legend Roy Hartle, who has died peacefully at the age of 83.

Former full-back Mr Hartle died at Strathmore Nursing Home in Astley Bridge where he had been staying for the last 12 months.

The father, grandfather and great grandfather celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary with his wife Barbara in March and had been a host to guests on match days at the Macron Stadium, where a room is named after him.

Mrs Hartle said: “He didn’t really know he was that popular. We don’t think he was that popular when he was playing.

“We went to the first home Bolton match this season, but he was not really well enough to go after that.”

Mr Hartle played for the Whites in the 1950s and 1960s, making 499 appearances, during which time he was captain and part of the 1958 FA Cup winning team.

Former team-mate Syd Farrimond, who played alongside him in the early stages of his own Bolton career, said Mr Hartle was a man to be feared on the pitch and respected off it.

“He was a hard player, but a real gentleman off the pitch,” he said. “They don’t make them like that anymore, that’s for sure.

“When Stanley Matthews came to Burnden Park, Roy put him down the strip along the side of the pitch and Matthews just shook his head.”

Mr Hartle served on the old Bolton Borough Council as a Conservative councillor for Halliwell for three years in the late 1960s and was also chairman of the Bolton Wanderers Former Players Association until a few months ago.

Wanderers boss Neil Lennon paid his own tribute to the former defender, who made 499 appearances for the club, including the 1958 FA Cup final.

“I didn’t meet him but I’m aware of his contribution to the club. First of all I’d like to pass on my condolences to his family and his friends. The word legend is bandied about quite often but its fitting for him because his career and his contribution to this football club was huge.”

Wanderers fan and former Mayor of Bolton, Cllr John Walsh, became the councillor in Halliwell immediately following Mr Hartle.

"He was a gentleman in every sense of the world," said Cllr Walsh. "I was very proud to have my name on the board of councillors immediately following the great Roy Hartle."

Secretary of the Former Players Association, Albert Lord, echoed Cllr Walsh's comments when he said: "Roy suffered poor health for a number of years, but, despite this situation, you could still get a smile from him."

Mr Hartle was born the youngest of 10 children at Catshill in the Midlands and began his career with local side Bromsgrove Rovers.

He signed amateur forms for Bolton when he was 16 years old while doing his National Service in Oswestry.

Mr Hartle signed professional forms for Wanderers in 1952 and the following year, despite playing in every round of the FA Cup, he was left out of the final against Blackpool, which Bolton lost, 4-3.

He became a first-team regular in 1955 and in the next 10 seasons missed only 20 games.

Mr Hartle also captained the side and was rated as one of the finest full-backs to be denied an England cap. He ended his playing career with Bolton in 1966.

Later he had a spell in the Cheshire League with Buxton before hanging up his boots before working for his FA coaching badge.

Mr Hartle spent a year coaching the New York Generals in the fledgling NASL and in 1969 Wanderers rewarded his loyalty to Bolton with a testimonial. He later became chief scout at Bury having turned down a coaching offer at Stoke City and the manager's job at Grimsby Town.

Bolton Wanderers have lowered the club flag to half mast and are planning a big screen picture tribute to Mr Hartle before the match against Huddersfield Town at the Macron Stadium on November 29.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.