Tributes have been paid to former Wolverhampton Wanderers and England goalkeeper Bert Williams MBE, who died yesterday (Sunday 19 January, 2014). He was 93.

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Bert played more than 420 times for Wolves, winning the FA Cup in 1949 and league in 1954. He also played 24 times for England, including at the World Cup in Brazil in 1950.

And his exploits on the field were immortalised when Bilston's new leisure centre was named after him in 2011. The Bert Williams Leisure Centre stands on the very spot that Bert, who hailed from Bradley, used to play football as a boy.

Alison Compton, Manager of the Bert Williams Leisure Centre, said: "Bert Williams was a true sporting legend. He did an enormous amount to raise the profile of Bilston and Wolverhampton both on and off the football field and we were honoured that he allowed us to name the Bert Williams Leisure Centre after him.

"I was delighted to meet Bert on a number of occasions - he was a real gentleman, very down to earth and a great inspiration to everyone who met him - and we hope his legacy will live on for years to come through the Bert Williams Leisure Centre."

Speaking at the official opening of the centre in 2011, Bert said: "It was a great honour to play for Wolves, a great honour to play for England and a great honour to receive my MBE from the Queen - but to have this wonderful leisure centre named after me is the icing on the cake.

"I am sure the leisure centre will benefit many thousands of people over the coming years and I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make this honour possible and make this day so very happy for me."

Alison added: "Bert really was in awe of having a leisure centre named after him - he couldn't believe that a normal chap from Bradley could have something like this named in his honour, and I know it was a source of great pride to him.

"He was such a lovely, humble man, and he will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him, particularly some of our older customers who were either friends with Bert or remember him playing for Wolves and England, and all the staff at the leisure centre."

Bert received an MBE for services to football and charity in the Queen's Birthday honours list in June 2010. He was involved in several fundraising campaigns for the Alzheimer's Society after his wife Evelyn died from the illness in 2002.

Leader of Wolverhampton City Council, Councillor Roger Lawrence, added: "Bert was from Bradley and I was delighted to support the Bilston councillors who arranged for the new Bilston leisure centre to be named after him. As well as his footballing prowess Bert was a tireless fundraiser for Alzheimer's research and as a result of these efforts was appointed an MBE."

A book of condolence has been set up at the Bert Williams Leisure Centre for people to leave their tributes which will be passed on to Bert's family.

  • released: Monday 20 January, 2014