A moving tribute to Holbeach-born footballer Brian “Slogger” Keeble who has died, aged 77, has been paid by an ex-team-mate who went on to manage England.
Graham Taylor, who played with Mr Keeble at Grimsby Town between 1962 and 1965, joined family, friends and former team-mates at the father-of-two’s funeral in Grimsby on Wednesday.
Mr Keeble, who began his career at Holbeach United before joining Grimsby after completing his National Service, died at his home in Cleethorpes on December 16 after a short illness.
He is survived by wife Diane, children Debbie and Tim, and grandchildren Emma and Adam.
Speaking to the Free Press on Friday, Mr Taylor said: “I joined Grimsby in 1962 when the left back in the first team was Brian Keeble.
“We played an FA Youth Cup game against Doncaster Rovers and I was a right-footed left back when we won 5-1.
When I think about it now, Brian was so good, so friendly and I owe him so much when it comes to my early footballing careerGraham Taylor
“I was living in digs and Brian invited me to have dinner with him and his wife on Thursday evenings.
“Brian was a great man, with a good sense of humour and an impish laugh which you knew meant that he was taking you for a ride.”
Mr Taylor, who also managed Lincoln City, Watford and Aston Villa, kept in touch with the Keebles and became godfather to Debbie despite taking his friend’s place in the Grimsby team.
“When I got into the first team and took Brian’s position as left back, I thought my invitations to dinner would stop,” Mr Taylor said.
“Yet he was fantastic and we remained friends all of the time. When I think about it now, Brian was so good, so friendly and I owe him so much when it comes to my early footballing career.”
Mrs Keeble, whose marrige to Mr Keeble lasted 52 years, said: “We were great friends with Graham and we’re all very upset about Brian’s death.
“He was a lovely man and a good husband, father and grandfather.
“I wasn’t interested in football when we first met and I had no idea who he was.
“But we just clicked and we had a lovely marriage of 52 years.
“I’ve received over 70 sympathy cards from people, a good proportion of them which said what a good and kind man Brian was and how much he’ll be missed.”