AN ENGLAND international footballer, who played in an FA Cup Final with Sir Stanley Matthews, has died at his Hartford home. John Crosland was also a war hero. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross as a fighter pilot in the Second World War and s

John in action on the pitch

AN ENGLAND international footballer, who played in an FA Cup Final with Sir Stanley Matthews, has died at his Hartford home.

John Crosland was also a war hero. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross as a fighter pilot in the Second World War and saw service in the Pacific flying from HMS Formidable.

After the war, he became a professional footballer, playing left-back for Blackpool and featuring in the 1948 FA Cup Final against Manchester United.

Although Blackpool was beaten 4-2, John's headed goal-line clearance kept the score down.

At the end of the 1950s, when John and his wife Peggy opened a pub in Wisbech, it was Sir Stanley, a close friend, who provided a reference for them to the licensing authorities.

Blackpool, with a squad of international players, played in three Cup Finals between 1948 and 1953.

John, who died on Saturday aged 83, also played for the England B team on the summer tour of 1953-54.

After playing for Blackpool, he was at Bournemouth for three years and from 1957 until 1960 he played for Wisbech Town.

John and Peggy took over a pub, The Old George, in the town's Market Square, running it until 1961. Later, they ran a hotel and a taxi business.

"We lived a varied life but always together," said Peggy, 82, who was at school with John. "He had a colourful career and a wide circle of friends. He was a lovely man, he was well liked and respected. There will be nothing but praise for him."

The couple, who celebrated their golden wedding in January, moved to Huntingdonshire to be near daughters Barbara, who lives in St Neots, and Tracy, who lives in Buckden. Their younger daughter, Susan, lives in Berkshire.

Peggy said: "John was born in Lytham St Anne's and we were at school together. We met again in 1947 through a mutual friend.

"He recognised me but I didn't recognise him. This lanky, callow youth had turned into a handsome, six foot, striking young fellow."

John leaves three daughters, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. His funeral will be at The Church of Michael the Archangel in Huntingdon next week.

The family has asked for family flowers only and donations, if wished, to the British Heart Foundation.