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Brian Labone R. I. P.


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By Paul Walker, PA Sport


Former Everton and England defender Brian Labone has died, the club have confirmed.


Labone, one of the greatest players in Everton's history, was capped 26 times for his country and played in the 1970 World Cup.


The 66-year-old was found collapsed in the street near his home in Maghull, Merseyside, at 11.25pm on Monday. He was understood to have been walking home after a night out.


A passer-by called for an ambulance and paramedics tried to revive the former Toffees skipper but he was declared dead on arrival at hospital.


Labone made 534 league appearances for Everton in a 13-year career.


Everton director of communications Ian Ross said: "Everyone at the club is devastated.


"In the pantheon of Everton greats, Brian Labone is right up there with the very best.


"He was one of the club's favourite sons and a hugely respected figure.


"He was regarded as a 'professional's professional' before that term was ever used.


"But not only was he a great footballer, he was also a lovely bloke. I've never met anyone who met Brian who didn't like him.


"He still worked at the club as an ambassador on match days, showing guests around the stadium.


"He loved to do that because it meant he was still dealing with Evertonians.


"He was passionate about the football club and a great Merseysider."


Former Everton player and manager Howard Kendall, who was Labone's team-mate for seven years at Goodison Park, told BBC Radio Five Live: "He was a great player and a great leader.


"He didn't shout his way through the team, he led by example and his performances on the pitch were tremendous.


"He was an outstanding player and a gentleman. He just performed well.


"It's a tragic loss."


Kevin Ratcliffe, captain of Everton from 1983 to 1991, added his own tribute. "He was a great captain, a great player, one of those players I'd have liked to have played alongside," Ratcliffe told Sky Sports News.


"He was a good spokesman for the club. He 'was' Everton Football Club."


As a player, Ratcliffe described Labone as "a fair centre-half" and added: "He'll be missed by the club because he did represent the club. Everyone loved him around Liverpool. He will be sadly missed I'm sure."

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