FORMER Blackburn Rovers footballer Chris Thompson has died at the age of 52.

The Walsall-born forward signed for Rovers in 1983 from Bolton Wanderers and made 100 appearances for the club, scoring 26 goals.

He moved on to Wigan in 1986, where he went on to form a prolific partnership with future manager Paul Jewell.

At the time of his death he was living in his West Midlands home.

His former strike partner and all-time leading goalscorer at Rovers, Simon Garner, said: “He was a great guy. A very underrated player, he was one of the best strikers I ever played with.”

Former team-mate, ex-Rovers full back Mick ‘Baz’ Rathbone, said Mr Thompson’s death over the Bank Holiday weekend had come as a shock.

He said: “I played with him for a few years. He was very popular. He was a good player, part of a fantastic squad with great camaraderie.

“At 52 it is a total shock. He was a nice guy, very droll and enjoyed a laugh. He was a good guy in a good bunch of lads.”

Darwen-born former Rovers midfielder Mark Patterson also had fond memories of Mr Thompson.

He said: “Over the past couple of years when I have been out with him socially he was poorly.

“But he was always upbeat and confident, just like he was as a player. He was a brave man with a big heart. You always knew what you were going to get with Chris. He was the sort of player you would want with you in the trenches.”

A spokesman for Rovers added: “Rovers would like to offer its condolences to Chris’s family and friends at this sad time.”

The cause of Mr Thompson’s death has not been released and funeral details are still being arranged.