JACK WALKER, the man whose millions transformed Blackburn Rovers into the country's champions, has died, after finally losing his battle against cancer.

The 71-year-old had been fighting the disease in hospital and at his home in Jersey for several months.

His wife Carole confirmed today: "Jack died in hospital last night."

A statement later issued by the Walker family praised his courage in fighting cancer. It said: "It is with great sadness that an announcement is made of the death of Jack Walker.

"He died following a short battle with cancer diagnosed earlier this year, which he fought with his customary courage and determination."

A private family funeral will be held in Jersey followed by memorial services in both Blackburn and Jersey. Dates for the services have yet to be confirmed.

The news has left the town and the football world in mourning. Jack's fortune -- made by the £330million sale of his Walkersteel business -- funded the Ewood revolution after he secured the services of Kenny Dalglish as manager in October 1991. But he will also remembered for the help he gave to a multitude of charities and good causes over the years. The true extent of his generosity will never be known because many of those Jack helped won't talk about exactly what he did for them and how much he donated -- and that's the way he wanted it.

His love for Rovers was demonstrated when he set up a trust fund to secure its long-term future, along with that of his other business interests and he left specific instructions on how he wanted the club to be run.

And his quest for success was not dimmed by the club's Premiership success in 1995 -- his last major decision before going into hospital was to appoint Graeme Souness as the club's sixth manager in the past five years.

Jack, the lad from the Blackburn back streets, who failed his 11-plus, rose to be one of Britain's most successful industrialists. Few businessmen of his generation could match his Midas touch when it came to making money.

Although he will always be remembered for the Blackburn steel empire which bore the family name, Jack seemed to have the knack of bringing success to whatever he invested his money and time in.

The tiny airline he bought as a "a bit of a pastime "-- and to take him on his regular visits from his home in Jersey to Blackburn -- is now worth £100million.

The once barren parcel of land he held onto when Walkersteel was sold is today one of the most valuable development sites in Lancashire.

And the portfolio of property interests much of the family fortune was invested in has grown to be one of the largest privately owned holdings in the country.

In addition to his wife Carole, Mr Walker leaves four children, Lynda, Howard, Michaela and Ross and his brother Fred.