Brian Woolnough, chief sports writer of the Daily Star and presenter of Sky Sports’ Sunday Supplement, has died at the age of 63.
Wooly, as he was affectionately known, had been suffering from bowel cancer and died at home.
He began his career at The Esher News in Surrey, before working for the Evening Post in Hemel Hempstead.
He was headhunted by The Sun, where in 27-years at the paper he worked his way up to become chief football writer.
He joined the Star to become chief sports writer in 2001, and in 2007 took over from Jimmy Hill as host of Sky Sports’ Sunday Supplement programme.
The Star said: “He was widely-known and respected inside and outside the profession, and must have been one of the few journalists to have been regularly asked for his autograph.”
His fellow colleagues have paid tribute to him on Twitter:
Gareth Southgate, former England player and ITV Sports pundit :”Sad to hear Brian Woolnough news. Not always loved by England squads, as brave enough to ask the difficult questions. Old school #respect”
Richard Keys, talkSport radio and former Sky Sports presenter: “Really sad to hear the news of Brian Woolnough’s passing. He fought cancer long and hard but died overnight aged 63. RIP Brian.”
Glenn Moore, football editor of The Independent: “Very sad to hear of passing of Brian Woolnough, a gent of the press box. We’ll never hear his rallying cry, ‘always back England’, again”
Henry Winter, football correspondent of The Telegraph: “Brian Woolnough has passed away. Wooly was a superb broadcaster, a top print reporter & a good friend. Thoughts with his family. RIP Wooly”
Chris Skudder, Sky News presenter: “Very sorry to hear about the passing of Brian Woolnough. Always willing to give an insightful ‘sound bite’ down the years. RIP.”
Ian Darke, Premier League Commentator for ESPN: “Very very sad to hear of death of football writer and broadcaster Brian Woolnough. Good bloke who I first knew as Claygate cricketer.RIP”
Georgie Bingham, talkSport Radio and Pararlympic presenter: “Terrible news about Brian Woolnough. How very sad he’ll be much missed. Big character. Thoughts to family friends and colleagues.”
Sam Matterface, talkSport radio: “So sad to hear of the passing of Brian Woolnough. I’m listening to @tSKeysandGray now and hearing his wisdom. Best wishes to his family.”