TRIBUTES have been paid to a talented former junior footballer after his death.

Born in Ovington in 1932, John Steele and his family moved to Hexham when he was six months old.

Following impressive displays in local schools' football games, John joined the Acomb Junior team, becoming their captain, and also played for Hexham Hearts.

And at age 16, he signed for Sunderland's junior team.

Hexham Courant: John (centre holding cup) with his Acomb Juniors teammates.John (centre holding cup) with his Acomb Juniors teammates.

"He was a very humble man and never shouted about his achievements," said his wife Kate.

She added: "These young lads put their heart and soul into it.

"They did it for the love of it, not for any money."

After he left school, John began an apprenticeship with Davison's Tyne Metal. He was called up for National Service in 1952, and served as a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy.

"That's what knocked the football on the head," said Kate.

Hexham Courant: John signed for Sunderland when he was 16.John signed for Sunderland when he was 16.

He then lived in Oxford for around 10 years, before he came back up North and returned to work for for Davison's Tyne Metal.

After he was made redundant in 1982, John began working at Weyroc (later Egger).

There, he began a social football team and often organised five-a-side tournaments.

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He also arranged trips to The Open and to the Classic Motor Show in Birmingham for team members, and used to organise a panto for members' children.

The toolmaker and setter worked at Egger until his retirement 25 years ago.

Hexham Courant: John and his wife Kate.John and his wife Kate.

John and Kate, who married in 1969 after meeting at Fandango nightclub in Hexham, had two daughters and a son together.

John was a secretary of Hexham's Unionist Club, and latterly, was a member of Hexham Beacon Club.

One month shy of his 90th birthday, John, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer 11 years ago, died on April 11.

His funeral took place at St Mary's RC Church in Hexham on April 27.