'A legend with a film star status'

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The Independent Online
There were tributes from the worlds of cricket and football following the death yesterday of Denis Compton.

The former England captain Ted Dexter said: "I'm very sad to hear this. Denis was an inspiration to me, I saw him at Lord's as a schoolboy and got his autograph while he was fielding on the boundary. He was a definite genius with the bat. He adorned the game and we should mourn his passing."

Another former England captain Brian Close, who played against Compton just after the war, said: "In those years there were two great players for England. There was Denis and there was Sir Len Hutton. The great thing about Denis was that he enjoyed life to the full. He was a great, natural ball player and never took things too seriously."

The umpire Dickie Bird said: "I shall miss him, everyone will miss him. Not only was he a great player but he was also a friend, a true friend of mine. He's done a tremendous amount for English cricket, he was always on hand to help young cricketers. He was a tremendous ambassador for the game."

A more recent England captain Chris Cowdrey, Colin Cowdrey's son, said: "My mother and father were close friends of his and this will sadden them. But he had not been very well and no one would have wanted him to suffer. He was one of the truly great personalities of sport, let alone of cricket. He conveyed a sense of fun and he loved life."

Compton, of course, also played football for Arsenal and England and a spokeswoman for Arsenal said: "The club would like to pay tribute to the great Denis Compton. He was a talented all-round sportsman and our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Sir Stanley Matthews said: "He was a great footballer. I played with him many times in wartime internationals for England. I remember a particular game against Scotland when we won by several goals to one and Denis tore them apart down the left wing. I think Tommy Lawton scored three or four goals that day from Denis's passes."

The current Middlesex captain and England selector, Mike Gatting, said: "It is very sad. He was a legend at Middlesex. Everybody from the youngest on the staff to the oldest member has fond memories of him. Compo was friendly to me and always took an interest in my career. He was an amazing man."

The Middlesex coach and former player, Don Bennett, said: "He was a legend. We played Surrey in a three-day game in 1950 and 60,000 people came through the turnstiles, mainly to see him. He was the draw. He had film star status."

And the Prime Minister, John Major, said: "Those who ever saw Denis Compton bat have an imperishable memory of the greatest cavalier of cricket."