Peter Shilton has said his long-time friend and rival Ray Clemence will be remembered “right up there” with the best.
Clemence, the former England, Liverpool and Tottenham goalkeeper, died on Sunday at the age of 72.
Shilton, who formed a strong bond with Clemence as they competed for the England number one jersey in the 1970s and 1980s, told BBC Breakfast: “He is right up there.
“Not only being a great goalkeeper – great agility, great hands, reflexes, a natural sort of goalkeeper – (but) just his character.
“He always ready for a laugh, always ready for a giggle – and a drink as well. He was one of those people you could trust and a great all-round guy. I’m just so sad he has been taken from us so early in his life.”
Clemence, who won five league titles and three European Cups with Liverpool, earned 61 caps for England – a figure that could have been much higher but for the presence of Shilton, who accumulated a record 125.
Shilton said: “He got 60-odd caps. People say to me, ‘If Clem hadn’t been around how many caps would you have got?’ but I say, ‘Listen, he was a fantastic goalkeeper and deserved the caps he got’.”
Shilton was thankful that Clemence never let any personal frustration at missing out on selection show.
Shilton, 71, said: “I remember when we did alternate for about a year under Ron Greenwood and then the 1982 World Cup came and he said to us he was going to pick one of us to play in the tournament.
“He picked me. It must have been devastating for Ray because he probably wasn’t going to get another World Cup and he just carried on like normal.
“That was the sort of character he had. I respect him totally for that and I am really sad he has passed away at such a young age.”
Former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp echoed Shilton’s thoughts.
“One of the all-time greats,” Redknapp told BBC Breakfast. “Not just a great goalkeeper, Tottenham, Liverpool and England, but a great guy.
“I remember last year I was at a charity golf day, Ray was there and he looked so ill.
“I said ‘Ray, are you OK?’. He said, ‘No, I’m OK, I’m going to play – I promised the people I would turn up, I can’t let them down’.
“He was very ill – he didn’t finish, I think he actually got taken to the hospital that day – but he turned up because he’d given his word he wouldn’t let the charity down.
“That was the type of guy Ray was, he was a fantastic man.”