FORMER Burnley winger Ralph Coates has died today at the age of 64.

Coates, who was a fans' favourite during his time at time at Turf Moor between 1961 and 1971, recently suffered a serious stroke and died at Luton and Dunstable Hospital this morning.

Coates was described as a ‘son of Burnley FC’ and ‘an extremely likeable man’ by ex-Clarets and Tottenham Hotspur colleagues.

Coates’ family has expressed thanks to former players, supporters and friends for their support since he fell ill around a fortnight ago.

He played more than 250 times for the Clarets, after starting his Turf Moor career as an apprentice, scoring 32 goals.

His prowess earned him four full England caps before his transfer to Spurs, for £190,000, in 1971, following Burnley’s relegation from the old First Division.

In his later years he was a matchday host at Spurs White Hart Lane ground but was still a welcome visitor to East Lancashire.

Lifelong friend and former team-mate Willie Irvine added: “It’s a real shock.

"I met up with Ralph six weeks ago at Turf Moor and he looked so well.

“Ralph was a true icon at Burnley Football Club, a legend in every sense of the word.

"He was part of the family at Turf Moor, and I know he’ll also be missed by a lot of people at Tottenham Hotspur.

“I played with Ralph from the junior team up at Burnley and we've been friends for a very, very long time.

Irvine, a Lancashire Telegraph columnist, said: “He was a revelation at Burnley on the left wing, a tremendous footballer.

"He was quite small, but he waw built like an ox. He was so powerful, he tormented defenders.

“Not only that, he was a gentlemen off the pitch. He was a lovely, lovely person and had a very good sense of humour.

"It’s a real shame.”

Burnley chief executive Paul Fletcher, a former team-mate, said: “He was still very much one of the sons of Burnley Football Club and someone who came through the youth system and went on to bigger and better things.

“He was revered here and it is a very sad day for everyone. He will be very sadly missed.”

Ex-Clarets captain Martin Dobson, another colleague, added: “I think the greatest compliment I can give Ralph is that he was a great guy.

“He was immensely popular with the fans and in the dressing room and he always had a smile on his face.

"What a player he was, and everybody warmed to him.

“I was very fortunate when I arrived that Ralph had established himself in the side and his presence helped because of the feelgood factor.”

”You just knew the supporters were genuinely happy to see Ralph playing for Burnley Football Club and there’s not many players who have that warmth and affection.

”He was just a smashing guy and it’s a sad, sad loss.”

Former Burnley MP Peter Pike, chair of the Clarets Trust, said: “Ralph truly was one of the great Claret legends and it was good to have known him and I know we all share the sorrow at his death at the early age of 64.

“Ralph was always a great favourite with the fans and in recent years he has had great contact with the London Supporters, of which I am chair.

“I know at the two matches between Spurs in the semi-final of the League Cup he had very much split loyalties between the two clubs and he knew how big an occasion it was for Burnley as we came within minutes of a Wembley final.

“He was capped 4 times for England but many fans thought that this great Burnley star and crowd favourite should have had many more caps."

A Spurs spokesman said: “He was an extremely likeable man who always had time for a chat with supporters.

“Ralph was popular part of our behind-the-scenes matchday team in recent seasons. He will be sadly missed by all.

"We extend our sincere condolences to his family at this very sad time.”

The former wide midfielder, who lived in St Albans, suffered a minor stroke then a more serious seizure, which left him hospitalised.

Originally from County Durham, Coates came to Turf Moor as an apprentice in 1962 and graduated to the first team within two years.

Playing alongside the likes of Willie Irvine, Andy Lochhead and Ray Pointer, he helped the Clarets to a third-placed finish in the 1966-67 season.

Later his skills proved invaluable as the side progressed to the semi-finals of the League Cup and qualified for European football. He notched up 257 appearances in claret and blue, scoring 32 goals.

He played eight times for England under-23s, before Alf Ramsey awarded him the first of four full England caps against Northern Ireland at Wembley in April 1970.

He transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in 1971, for just under £200,000, where he was part of League Cup and UEFA Cup winning teams, before seeing out his career at Leyton Orient.

Burnley bosses have announced that the flag at Turf Moor will fly at half-mast in memory of Coates.

Funeral details have not yet been announced.

If you would like to pay tribute to Ralph Coates, please add your comments below.