“It goes back a long way, it goes back to the First World War", Malcolm Daubney says.

Few people can say they knew footballing legend Nat Lofthouse, but Mr Daubney was a friend who was gifted a valuable piece of memorabilia by the Wanderers legend.

Mr Daubney, now 88, grew up in Bolton, side-by-side with a family called the Thornleys.

He said: “The Thornleys and the Daubneys were very close.

"My grandparents and a family called the Thornleys lived in Horrock Street in the valley which was off Ivy Road, it’s long been demolished

"Eddie Thornley, who was my brother’s age, was the Bolton [School] Boys’ school’s captain in 1948.

“Nat [Lofthouse] played for Bolton [School] Boys in 1943.

“Some years later, he organised reunions of the 1948 team. They met in Lytham Saint Anne’s every year. I was living in Australia, but I used to come.

"And the Thornleys and the Daubneys were very close friends.

"And subsequent generations remained friends because we were next door neighbours.

"Even when they emigrated to Canada and I went to Australia, we always remained close friends."

Nat Lofthouse lifts the FA Cup in 1958 after his Bolton side defeated Manchester United 2-0 at WembleyNat Lofthouse lifts the FA Cup in 1958 after his Bolton side defeated Manchester United 2-0 at Wembley (Image: Archive)

Mr Daubney saw Lofthouse at many reunions and still idolised him.

He said: “I was a keen Bolton Wanderers supporter. In that era, he was a god.”

And like many, he was touched by the Lion of Vienna’s generosity.

Lofthouse rewarded him with the ultimate gift, an England cap out of his collection of 33.

Mr Daubney says: “I was overwhelmed, as you can imagine, your hero giving you an England cap.

“I was going to leave it to some family members, but I thought 'no, I have got to come here'.”

Years after moving to Australia in 1962, he decided the cap belonged back in Bolton.

And he has made the long journey from "Down Under" to his hometown to donate the gift to Bolton Museum, with it being unveiled on Monday.

And the museum is thrilled. Because this is not just any cap.

Malcolm Daubney, centre, with his family at Bolton MuseumMalcolm Daubney, centre, with his family at Bolton Museum (Image: Newsquest)

Museum access officer Matthew Watson said: “[This] was the cap Nat Lofthouse would have been given in the legendary game against Scotland played in April 1955 at Wembley.

“England won 7-2 and he scored two goals in that match. And this is in the mid-1950s when he was at the height of his powers as a player.”

The cap will join another piece of memorabilia, the shirt Lofthouse wore in the game.

Mr Watson said: “The cap Malcolm has given us will sit alongside it.”

The council's executive cabinet member of culture, Cllr Nadeem Ayub, added: “We are deeply grateful to Malcolm Daubney and his family for donating these very special items.

“These contributions add to the museum’s important collection of materials relating to Nat Lofthouse and Bolton Wanderers.

“They also help us preserve and share the history of the club with future generations, further cementing our town’s cultural and sporting legacy, as well as showcasing its central place in the history of the town.”