HUNDREDS of friends, family and former teammates paid their respects at the funeral of former Blackburn and Burnley player Paul Comstive.
Paul, 52, who died suddenly from a suspected heart attack at his home in Southport, played more than 100 times for Burnley and began his career at Ewood Park.
Around 500 people attended his funeral at St John Church, Crossens, Southport yesterday.
Such was his universal popularity that around 200 fans waited outside during the service as the church was full.
Before the funeral, widow Jill said: “He was a devoted family man.
“We didn’t realise how popular he was until now. Paul would have said ‘famous at last’.”
Players from Paul’s many clubs were only too willing to pay tribute to a man who was remembered fondly.
Derek Fazackerley, Rovers’ record appearance holder, who went on to coach England under Kevin Keegan, described him as a ‘lovely fellow and a trusted team mate’.
He said: “Paul was just starting out when I was at Rovers. He was 10 years younger.
“He was a cracking player and great to have around the dressing room.
He was strong and flexible in his position and good in the air.
“Everyone who knew Paul will tell you what an outstanding man he was with a lovely family. I was very saddened to hear he'd passed away so suddenly.”
Former postman Paul will be very fondly remembered at Turf Moor as a left sided midfielder.
He graced the Wembley pitch in claret and blue in the 1988 Sherpa Van trophy and was outstanding in the semi-final against Preston, in which he scored. The club was represented by ex-players’ association organiser Veronica Simpson at the funeral and several former team mates, including John Deary and Roger Eli.
Mr Deary said: “Paul went to school with me and we played together at Burnley. Of all his clubs I think he retained the most affection for them.
“There were no edges to him. He was simply a wonderful man and a great player. He had a bullet of a left foot.”
Paul retained his passion for football, coaching youngsters in Southport and helping the ground staff at Southport FC.
Manager and former Accrington Stanley boss John Coleman said: “Paul was a great person to have around the club.
“I’d only asked him the other week to play for the veterans’ team. It’s such a shame he’s been taken so young.”
Dozens of Royal Mail colleagues attended the funeral and many mourners wore red at the request of the family as Paul was a Manchester United fan.
At the funeral it was said that Paul was an immensely popular figure and well-known as the local postman where, whatever the weather, he would wear shorts.
He leaves his wife of 30 years, Jill, and daughters Lauren, 24, and Eilish, 19.