FREDDIE Hill, the inside-forward who thrilled the Burnden Park crowd throughout the late fifties and sixties, is recovering after serious illness.

The 80-year-old, who made 412 appearances for Bolton Wanderers and scored 79 goals, has twice been hospitalised since the start of the year.

Hill was initially admitted in January with sepsis and then picked up another non-COVID19 related infection after returning to his home, close to Bolton University.

Doctors were cautious about keeping him in hospital for a second time and so, once he was able, he moved to a care home in Heaton to ensure he had round-the-clock supervision and a better chance of full recovery.

His family has been based in Lytham since the lockdown and are frequent visitors, even though isolation rules make them unable to actually share a room.

A close friend of the family told The Bolton News: “Freddie is getting great care and he has picked up 100 per cent in the last few weeks.”

In 2005, Bolton Wanderers fans voted for their top 50 players of all time – with Hill finishing 11th in the poll.

The Sheffield-born footballer made his debut as an 18-year-old in April 1958, replacing the injured Ray Parry in a 4-0 defeat against Aston Villa.

The Bolton News:

After just three seasons in the Bolton first team Hill (pictured front row, second from right) was selected for the England Under-23s team and in 1962 won his first full cap against Northern Ireland in Belfast.

Walter Winterbottom awarded him a second cap in a 4-0 victory against Wales in November 1962 – but the arrival of Sir Alf Ramsey would unfortunately spell the end of his international ambitions.

The famed ‘Wingless Wonders’ system which helped England win the World Cup in 1966 was organised without the more ‘enigmatic’ talents, such as Hill.

“Even Tom Finney said in the papers that ‘Fred will be playing for a long time’ but when the next game came around, they had changed the manager to Ramsey and I wasn’t even in the 40,” he said. speaking to The Bolton News in 2010. “His idea was that he didn’t want anybody to try and beat a man. Well, that was my game.

“He just wanted us to pass it, one or two touch, but I couldn’t do that. It was the making of Alan Ball, though. Now he could work hard.

“They won the World Cup – and some people said it was because I wasn’t playing!”

Hill remains the last Englishman to score a top-flight hat-trick for Bolton. Between 1961 and 1965 he scored 39 goals from out wide and was courted by some of the top clubs in the land. A £60,000 move to Liverpool collapsed because of high blood pressure – and just a couple of years later he scored in a famous 2-1 victory against the Reds in the League Cup.

He left for Halifax in 1969 but climbed back up the leagues to play for Manchester City between 1970 and 1973, finishing his career with a distinguished spell at Peterborough, where he was recently voted into the hall of fame.

The Bolton News: Freddie Hill hits Wanderers’s first goal in their 6-0 hammering of Middlesbrough

The Bolton Wanderers Former Players Association issued an update earlier this week which confirmed that former defender Charlie Cooper has now recovered from the coronavirus.

Cooper played 90 times for Bolton between 1960 and 1969.

It read: "In these strange times, many sad things have happened. We were informed that our former secretary, Peter Keeling, had passed away on April 30th due to the Coronavirus.

"Peter played a very important role in his time in office. Not only was he a dedicated and enthusiastic committee member but he was one of those who pushed for the Association to be reformed about 20 years ago.

"Without people such as Peter there would not be the body that we have now. 

"Peter was an 800m British athlete, football agent, football coach in Scandanavia but a renowned football journalist with an unmatched knowledge of the game who probably had more contacts in the sport that most.

Our condolences go out to his wife Janet and the family.

"Charlie Cooper suffered a stroke two months ago and then contracted the virus. He is still in hospital but clear of the virus. He may be returning home in the next 10 days or so.

"Freddie Hill has been in hospital twice and is now recuperating after two infections. 

Hopefully, we won't receive any more bad news but a bright spot in that Paul Hallows is now on the better side after a bout of illness. 

"Take care everyone and keep well."