FORMER Wanderers midfielder Gareth Williams has passed away at the age of 76, the club has confirmed.

Hendon-born Williams started professionally with Cardiff City after being plucked from local football, and eventually went on to captain the Bluebirds before leaving for Bolton in a £45,000 deal in October, 1967.

He soon made his debut in a 2-0 victory against Norwich City, scoring his first goals for the club in a 5-3 win at home to Derby County a few weeks later.

After the departure of Bill Ridding as manager in August 1968, Nat Lofthouse stepped into the role and though Williams scored the first goal of his tenure – in a 1-1 draw at Oxford United – the pair were to clash on a number of disciplinary issues.

Talented Williams remained a mainstay of the Bolton midfield through some testing seasons in Division Two, making 117 appearances and scoring 12 goals in total.

Yet his final game would come in the midst of a chaotic campaign, a 4-0 defeat at Birmingham City, as Bolton dropped into the third tier for the first time in their history.

Williams moved to Bury, playing for a further two seasons in Division Four under Tom McAnearney and Allan Brown at Gigg Lane.

He later worked in the prison service and ran a hotel in Fylde before moving to Gran Canaria in his later life with his wife, Karen.

A statement from the Bolton Wanderers Former Players’ Association read: “It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Gareth Wiliams at his home in Gran Canaria.

“Gareth had recently suffered an amputation and his recovery seemed to be going well but he had a relapse resulting in his death on June 4.

“Our deepest condolences go to his wife, Karen, and the rest of his family.”