Former Newcastle United chief executive Freddie Fletcher has lost his battle with cancer.
Scottish-born Freddie, 71, took over as chief executive of the Magpies in 1992 and helped transform the club's fortunes after Sir John Hall took over.
He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related lung cancer earlier this year, and died last night.
Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd said: "I worked with him for 15 years when I was chairman.
"The club wouldn't be where it is today without him. He was the man who got Kevin Keegan. Newcastle have a lot to thank Freddie Fletcher for."
Sir John Hall, who worked with Mr Fletcher for 26 years, said: "Freddie was instrumental to the success of Newcastle United.
"It is so sad to think we have lost a truly great friend.
"What he did behind the scenes was invaluable and my condolences go to his wife Margaret and family."
Sir Bobby Robson's widow Lady Elsie said today: “I was very sad to hear the news about Freddie.
“He was a good friend of ours and when we set up the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, he was one of the first people Bob approached for support.
“Freddie was a great help and played a key role in the charity’s launch. He was always passionate and enthusiastic about the charity and I’m grateful to him.”
A statement released on behalf of Newcastle United read: "Newcastle United were very saddened to hear the news of the death of Freddie Fletcher after a brave fight against cancer.
"Freddie did great things for the club in the 1990s, especially in the early days of the Premier League, and helped re-establish the club in the top echelons of English football.
"He had great enthusiasm, knowledge and football expertise and he also played a key role in bringing the likes of Alan Shearer, David Ginola and Tino Asprilla to the club. Our thoughts in this time of sorrow are with his family."
Before he arrived at St James' Park, Mr Fletcher was commercial director of Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers. Fletcher had three children and was a grandfather of six.
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