Former Everton boss Gordon Lee has died aged 87.
Lee was in charge at Goodison Park from 1977 to 1981, leading the team to a League Cup final, two FA Cup semi-finals and two top-four finishes in the First Division.
He passed away peacefully in his sleep on 8 March, and his son Gary told the Toffees: “Everton have been wonderful to him and our family – please pass on our thanks for being a huge part of his journey."
Lee was born in Cannock in Staffordshire, on 13 July 1934, and began his playing career at Hednesford Town before joining Aston Villa in 1955.
The right-back spent the next 11 years with the Villains, playing in their 1961 League Cup final success before ending his career with Shrewsbury.
He cut his managerial teeth at Port Vale, succeeding Stanley Matthews and guiding Vale into the Third Division.
He then earned promotion to the Second Division with Blackburn, which prompted Newcastle to secure his services in 1975.
The "bright, forward-thinking coach" made the move to Everton two years later and signed the likes of George Wood, Graeme Sharp and Alan Irvine.
But he was sacked after a poor finish to the 1980-81 season and had further spells in management with Preston and KR Reykjavik in Iceland.
He also stepped in as caretaker at Leicester after David Pleat was dismissed in 1991 and helped save them from relegation.
Sharp told evertonfc.com: “I will always be grateful to Gordon Lee for bringing me to Everton Football Club. He showed faith in me and gave me my debut as a young footballer.
“Gordon was a massive part of my development and I always enjoyed meeting up with him later in life. I am deeply saddened by his loss and extend my sympathy to his family.”
Former Everton captain Kevin Ratcliffe, who made his debut under Lee, added: “Gordon loved to give young players an opportunity and I will forever be grateful that he gave me mine at Everton.
“He was ahead of his time with some of his coaching methods and with a bit more luck would have brought honours to the club. He left his mark on Everton and his passing is a very sad one.”