Sheffield United today mourn the loss of one of our greatest ever players with Alan Hodgkinson passing to a higher league after illness.
'Hodgy' is, without doubt, one of the finest goalkeepers to have graced our Club in its long history.
Born at Laughton Common on the outskirts of Sheffield in August 1936, he was signed from Worksop Town for the sum of £250 after a trial in 1953.
He made his Football League debut aged 18 and also played for England, firstly in the U23s and then going on to the senior squad, taking his bow at Wembley against Scotland. When he played for his country he was never on the losing side.
At Bramall Lane, the defence he controlled is rightly regarded as one of United's best. A generation and beyond was weaned on Hodgkinson, Coldwell, Shaw, Shaw, Richardson and Summers, they were superb together and an automatic selection between 1957 and 1963.
674 competitive games for the Club shows his quality, Alan stands second only to Joe Shaw in our history in terms of league games and his tenure saw him bridge the eras of Hagan, Ringstead and Brook to that of Currie, Badger and Woodward.
After retiring as a player he coached for the Club, often taking charge of the reserves, before taking up the role of assistant manager at Gillingham with former colleague Gerry Summers.
Alan was one of the first specialist goalkeeper coaches when he left the Gills, making a home in the Midlands, he would strike out and give his services to different clubs well into his latter years. Famously he recommended Peter Schmeichel to Manchester United.
In January 2008 he was awarded the MBE for his services, and never was an award more richly deserved or proudly received.
In recent years he has been a regular in the Directors' Box at Bramall Lane with his wife Brenda, cheering on his team as a fan, something that wherever he was and whatever he was doing never changed. He loved the Club. He loved Bramall Lane.
Sincere condolences from everyone at Bramall Lane will be passed to his wife, Brenda, and the remainder of the Hodgkinson family, whilst tributes will be discussed at a suitable time.
Sheffield United co-owner Kevin McCabe today paid tribute on behalf of Sheffield United:
"We are all feeling his loss and our heartfelt condolences go to his wife Brenda and his family.
"Hodgy made a real impression on the game, not only here in Sheffield with the Blades but elsewhere where he was a great coach and helped the development of many goalkeeping names such as David Seaman and Peter Schmeichel.
"I was one of the fortunate ones to see Alan play - he was an outstanding goalkeeper. Growing up watching the Blades, Alan, along with centre half Joe Shaw, was one of my first heroes back in the late 50s and 60s.
"He was a special man who I was fortunate enough to spend many hours with when he returned to watch the Blades. He will always be remembered by United as a true legend of the Lane," added Mr McCabe.
Rest in peace, 'Hodgy'.