VETERAN soccer fans are mourning the loss of Bolton-born Aston Villa player Stan Lynn, who has died at the age of 73.

Stan, or Bill as he was known to his family, was one of the great players of the Midlands team in the 1950s, including being part of the squad which beat Manchester United in the 1957 FA Cup final.

The player, nicknamed "Stan the Wham" after his powerful kick, was born and grew up in Bashall Street, near Chorley Old Road, developing a love of football at an early age.

As a child he played for the Devonshire Road and Whitecroft Road school teams before joining Whitworths XI in the Bolton Boys' Federation.

After leaving school at 14 he became a stripper and grinder in the Musgrave spinning mill, but success was just around the corner and at the age of 16 he was spotted by a talent scout from Accrington Stanley and signed up.

"He was always mad about football," said his sister, Sylvia Crossley, who lives in Meliden Crescent, Captain's Clough.

In 1950 Aston Villa paid Accrington £10,000 in a transfer deal for the full back, starting an 11-year association which was to make him one of the Midland's best-loved players.

"They said he had such a powerful kick that, when taking penalties, he didn't aim at the corner of the net, just straight at the goalkeeper instead," said brother-in-law Roy Crossley.

In his time at Villa he scored 38 goals in 323 games, including a hat trick against Sunderland in 1958.

After leaving Villa in 1961, Stan went on to play for Birmingham City for another five years before finally quitting professional football and becoming a storeman at Birmingham's Lucas factory until he retired.

He married twice, had two children and seven grandchildren, and leaves a widow, Sheila.

For the last three years he suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and died in a Birmingham nursing home on Sunday. Large crowds are expected to attend his funeral in Birmingham on Tuesday.

Throughout his life Stan remained a Bolton Wanderers fan -- except when his team was playing them -- and regularly competed against great players such as Nat Lofthouse, who he was reunited with on a visit to the Reebok Stadium two years ago.