HELSTON lost a "true gent" on Monday when former Cornwall goalkeeper Sam Real passed away at the age of 89.

He was a familiar face around the town and particularly at his beloved Kellaway Park, where he played and watched football for much of his life.

Helston Athletic's chairman Paul Hendy said: "He was an absolute character, a legend. He was our Guest of Honour at the Senior Cup final in 2013 and although the club finished runners up, he was extremely proud of the team's performance, taking to the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate with the players.

"He was a lovely bloke and it's a huge loss to Helston Football Club. He loved coming up to watch even in recent times and also enjoyed a pint at the Blue Anchor," added Paul.

Sam, who worked for BT putting up phone lines and poles for many years, was an excellent keeper who took no prisoners.

"I remember one story in which he is supposed to have thumped a teacher while attending the old Green School, which is where the Godolphin Club is now. He didn't like being told what to do," said Paul.

Gerald Sobey, referee and football administrator for many years, said: "He was virtually like a brother to me. A great sportsman, a superb goalkeeper and also a keen golfer at Mullion."

The 87 year-old added that he'd also played cricket with Sam, who turned out mainly for Manaccan but also Helston.

Sam, whose wife Glenda passed away last year, has one son, Carlton, a paramedic who lives near the football ground.

On Helston FC's facebook page, tributes were coming in yesterday.

The club's second team manager Graham Blake said: "Very sad news, what a great bloke who always had time for a chat! Thoughts go out to the all the family. RIP Sam."

Zara Ainscough added: "So gutted. Going to miss his cheeky face. Always smiling."

Ann Bower Farley commented: "Such sad news, a true gent. RIP Sam."

Last night a minute's silence was due to be held in his memory before Helston's home match with Camelford.

Sam, christened Cedric, once featured on the front cover of the FA News magazine, published in 1957.

The picture shows him meeting the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip at a floodlit match between Cornwall and Combined Services at St Blazey.