ONE of North Wales’ greatest ever footballers has died following a short illness.

John Reginald Hunter aka Reg Hunter was born in Colwyn Bay and grew up in Mochdre.

He died aged 81 on September 9 at his home at Bangor-on-Dee, near Wrexham, in the loving company of his family.

Known as a forward, Hunter's playing career started with his hometown club of the Bay in 1957.

Denbighshire Free Press:

He went on to have a successful trial at Manchester United and was signed on a professional contract at Old Trafford.

Hunter won an FA Youth Cup winners medal in his first season at United as they beat West Ham in the final. However, his only first team appearance for the club came against Aston Villa on December 27, 1958. Hunter played as an outside right during a 2-0 victory that day.

Denbighshire Free Press:

He had been part of the 'Busby Babes' that same year, and previously spoke of how 'lucky' he was to have not travelled on that fateful plane to Munich on February 6.

Then-United manager Matt Busby decided not to take Hunter on that flight, now known as the 'Munich air disaster'.

It resulted in 23 of the 43 Manchester United players and officials on board losing their lives when British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany.

Having left Old Trafford after four years in 1960, Hunter then went on to play for Wrexham where he made a total of 40 appearances and scored four goals.

In 1962, Hunter signed for Bangor City and was part of the Citizens side that beat Italian giants Napoli 2-0 in the First Round leg of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup that year - a victory that is to this day regarded as the club's most famous win.

Paying tribute to Hunter this week, a spokesperson for Colwyn Bay FC said: "We are sad to report the passing this week of former Colwyn Bay and Man United winger Reg Hunter. Our condolences go to his family."

Mr Hunter was a dearly loved husband to Mary, father to James and Daniel and father-in-law to Sarah and Leanne. He also leaves behind grandson, George, Hugo and Lewis.

Due to current restrictions surrounding Covid-19, a private funeral has been held in his honour. However, donations in his memory are being given to Prostate Cancer UK and can be made by calling 01978 261764.