Norwich City legend and World Cup winner Martin Peters has died
PUBLISHED: 22:20 21 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:52 22 December 2019
Martin Peters, the only World Cup winner ever to represent Norwich City, has died at the age of 76.
The footballing world have paid tribute to a "legend" and one of English football's "all time greats".
Mr Peters, who scored for England in the 1966 World Cup final victory over West Germany, played more than 200 times for the Canaries between 1975 and 1980, scoring 50 times.
A statement from his family paid tribute to a 'kind, gentle and private man'.
Mr Peters died in his sleep at 4am on Saturday (December 21).
A statement from Mr Peters family said: "It is with profound sadness that we announce that Martin passed away peacefully in his sleep at 4.00am this morning.
"A beloved husband, dad and grandad, and a kind, gentle and private man, we are devastated by his loss but so very proud of all that he achieved and comforted by the many happy memories we shared. We will be making no further comment and kindly ask that the privacy of our family is respected at this extremely difficult time."
Tributes are already being paid to the former two-time player of the season, who signed for City from Tottenham Hotspur for £50,000.
Peter Silvester described Mr Peters as the best player to ever kick a ball for Norwich City and likened him to Lionel Messi.
He told Radio Norfolk: ""I would say that Martin Peters was probably the best player to ever kick a ball for Norwich City. I'm not saying that because he's passed away but because of how he played football. He came to Norwich at an age of 30/31, everybody thought a footballer was finished at that age. He turned around a mediocre side and made players believe and he made them play better.
"If you would have took that player out of that Norwich City side for four or five years they would have been relegated. He was such a magnificent player. He could read the game. He could turn around and arrive late. He had a nickname the ghost, he could arrive in the penalty area just at a critical moment for a header. He was so gifted that nobody had seen anything like it in years.
"One of the all time greats of English football
"You will never see a footballer like Martin Peters."
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The former England international died after a long fight with Alzheimer's, having been diagnosed in 2016.
News of his death was confirmed publicly by another of his former clubs, West Ham United, who he represented for more than a decade.
A post on the club's website reads: "Everyone at West Ham United is deeply saddened by the tragic news that legendary hammer Martin Peters MBE has died at the age of 76.
"The 1966 World Cup winner passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Saturday morning, following a long and courageous battle with illness."
David Gold and David Sullivan, joint chairmen of West Ham United, called Mr Peters one of the greatest figures in the club's 125 year history.
In a statement, the chairmen said: "The word 'legend' is used all too freely nowadays. But Martin Peters is a true legend. A legend of West Ham United. A legend of world football. And his contribution to our club and our game will never, ever be forgotten."
Mr Peters made 232 appearances for the Canaries in his five years at the club and was named player of the season in consecutive seasons, 1975/76 and 1976/77.
Tributes have been pouring in for the City legend from across the footballing community, with Gary Lineker and Darren Fletcher among those to pay their respects on social media.
Mr Lineker wrote: "Sorry to hear that Martin Peters has passed away. One of our World Cup winning heroes. A great player and a true gentleman."
Mr Peters joined City at the age of 31, helping to guide the Canaries to promotion from the old Second Division.
The midfielder returned to Norfolk to play at non-league Gorleston.
Off the field, Mr Peters was honoured with an MBE in 1978. He would also go on to coach children at a holiday park in Great Yarmouth.
He is survived by wife Kathleen, daughter Leeann and son Grant.
More to follow.