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Juventus players and supporters paid tribute to their former striker John Charles before yesterday’s Italian league match against Bologna at the Stadio Dall’Ara.

Players from both teams stood around the centre circle and fans clapped before the Serie A game got under way as a mark of respect to Charles who died on Saturday aged 72.

There were other commemorations throughout Italy and also at Old Trafford where another of Charlers’ former clubs Leeds, played Manchester United.

Charles, who had been ill for some time, was known as “Il Buon Gigante” – the Gentle Giant – during his highly five years with the Turin club.

Mark Hughes, Wales manager, paid tribute to a man many considered to be Britain’s greatest ever player.

“Whenever you were in his company he made you feel very welcome,’ said Hughes. ‘He had great presence. A huge man with a great personality, he was genuinely a nice guy.

“What struck me – and there is very little television footage of him in his prime – is that you realised he was a modern-day player in a different era. That was why he was such a great player. There is always the debate on whether the past players could perform in the modern game, but there would have been no argument that big John could have done.

“You would not know where to play him. He could play up front or at the back equally well. He is the greatest player ever to wear the Welsh shirt; he will be sorely missed.”

Charles, an immensely versatile player who was equally comfortable playing centre-half or centre forward, joined Leeds when he was 17 and scored more than 150 goals in eight years. He moved to JUventus or a then record fee of £67,000 in 1957 and scored 93 goals in 155 matches.

Charles won 38 caps for his country and scored 15 goals. He was never booked or sent off in his career.

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