TRIBUTES have been paid by Bolton Wanderers fans to legendary Freddie Hill, who passed away aged 81.

Nicknamed ‘God’ by the Burnden Park faithful in a 12-year career at Bolton, Hill was one of the most entertaining and talented wide men to ever feature for the club.

Hill came through the junior ranks at Bolton having been spotted playing junior football in Sheffield and established himself as a first team regular the season after the club had won the FA Cup in 1958, giving a sign of his talent as he scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 win against Chelsea.

He was top scorer in the 1961/62 season and remains the last English Bolton player to score a top-flight hat-trick, doing so against Sheffield United in 1963.

By the time he was 22, his precocious talent had been recognised by England manager Walter Winterbottom and he made his debut in a 3-1 win against Northern Ireland. He featured against Wales soon after but the arrival of Alf Ramsey, who had an aversion to wingers and wider players, left him out of the picture.

He died on October 1 at Glenhomes Care Home, aged 81.

He was the loving dad to Graham and Stuart, brother to Alan and his partner Richard, father-in-law to Debbie and the late Vicky, cherished grandad to Lucy and Oliver, Lewis, George and Sam, great grandad to Lillie.

A service is taking place at Bolton Parish Church on October 19 at 10.30am.

Our readers have been paying their respects to the former footballer on our website.

Michael Hailwood said: “Sad news. Freddie Hill was one of the most talented players that Bolton have ever had.

“He had sensational ball control and I remember seeing him destroy the Spurs “double’” team of the early sixties.

“Even Blanchflower and Mackay couldn’t keep him quiet.

“Freddie was the equivalent to JJ Okocha in his ability to beat players and entertain the crowd. A true legend of Bolton Wanderers. RIP Freddie.”

John Nagee said: “Fred Hill was the most skilful footballer I ever saw live. I also saw George Best, Frank Worthington, Diego Maradona and Pele. All live and not on the television.”

Donations in memory of Freddie can be made to the Alzheimer’s Society. All enquires to Coop Funeralcare, Crompton Way. Bolton Tel 01204 307151