JOHN Byrom has led tributes to former Wanderers, Liverpool, Preston and England winger Peter Thompson, who has passed away at the age of 76.

Although he had already won league and cup honours at Anfield, earned 16 international caps for England and made the long-squad for the 1966 World Cup finals, Thompson’s silky skills made him a terrace hero at Burnden Park in the mid-to-late seventies.

Byrom played alongside him for two-and-a-half seasons in the old Second Division and believes the Carlisle-born midfielder was worth the adulation.

“He was brilliant at dribbling, there’s no other word for it,” he told The Bolton News.

“At one point you had him on one wing, Willie Morgan on the other one. I’d have scored 300 goals for Bolton if they’d have turned up sooner!

“Peter was a very, very good footballer and the crowd loved him. They don’t really have players like that now.

“You see what (Marcus) Rashford did for United the other night – well Peter was doing that every week back then. Every time he got the ball the crowd would gasp.

“I played against him at junior level when I was at Blackburn and he was at Preston, then a couple of times when he was at Liverpool. “He was a nice lad, quiet. But if you got him talking, he was very amusing.”

Peter Nicholson added his tribute, describing the story of his arrival at Burnden Park in December 1973.

“Jimmy Armfield met him in Blackpool walking down the Prom, and by then he’d finished at Liverpool and wasn’t playing,” he said. “Jimmy told him ‘come over to Bolton, you’re not ready to finish yet.’ And he did.

“As the story goes, Bill Shankly got straight on the phone and started saying what a great player Peter was – and that if he was coming to Bolton he’d cost £15,000.

“I think they paid it in the end. But it was well worth it. What a player.”

Thompson was 31 when he signed for Bolton in December 1973, initially on loan, and made his debut against Sunderland in a game played on a Wednesday afternoon because of the power strike.

He soon became an integral part of the team, firstly for Armfield and then his successor Ian Greaves.

“I remember playing against Notts County one time and we were really under the cosh, and even someone like Peter Reid was screaming ‘get the ball to Tommo’ because we knew he’d look after it,” said Nicholson.

“He could hold it up, go on a run, give you that 30 seconds of breathing space.

“When you think a club like Bolton had three people associated with that World Cup win – Tommo, who was in the squad, Roger Hunt and Jimmy himself. It’s quite something.

“People around in my era as a player just worshipped him. He excited the crowd, he was exciting to play alongside. He was a fantastic person and he’ll be very sadly missed.”