TRIBUTES have been paid to former Blackburn Rovers star Derek Leaver who has died at the age of 82.

Derek was also well known for feeding countless Rovers’ fans when he retired from football thanks to his family business, Leaver’s Pie Shop at Ewood.

Rovers legend Bryan Douglas said his passing was sad news for many who remembered Derek from his days at Rovers in the early 1950s.

He said: “I know he had been poorly for some time but it is still such sad news to hear it. He has had a wonderful life though.

“In my early days at Rovers as a young boy he helped me an awful lot, both on and off the field. He looked out for you. He always gave me much valued advice and helped me. He was a true friend and a gentlemen. He will be sorely missed.

“His pies of course, were legendary. Everyone who tasted them at Ewood’s boardroom would say they were amazing and that they put the best spreads on in the country”.

The grandfather-of-three and great grandfather-of two, who passed away on Sunday, played 14 games for Rovers as a midfielder between 1949 and 1955, scoring five goals. He also played for Bournemouth and Crewe Alexandra during his career. He was also a keen golfer and had served as both captain and president at Wilpshire Golf Club.

After becoming injured, he took up a new role as a baker in his father’s business, selling pies at Bolton Road, across from Ewood Park. The family business is still thriving with Derek’s son David at the helm.

Daughter Janet, 58, of Mellor Brook, said: “It says ‘professional footballer’ for his profession on my birth certificate but Dad had to retire when he had knee problems.

“He took over my grandfather’s bakery and he loved coming up with new recipes. When he read that Alan Shearer’s favourite meal was chicken and beans, he created a chicken and beans pie in his honour which we still sell today.”