LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea have paid tribute to life president Richard Attenborough, who has died at the age of 90, saying that the Oscar-winning film director's "personality was woven into the tapestry of the club over seven decades".
"He was a consistent force for good at the club, even in dark times," the 2012 European champions said in a statement.
"He led a long and successful life and always found time for the things in life he loved most, one of which was Chelsea FC."
Attenborough joined the Chelsea board in 1969 and stayed until 1982, his initial years being marked by the London club winning their first FA Cup in 1970 and their first European trophy, the now defunct Cup Winners' Cup, a year later.
The British actor, who won worldwide fame for his many film roles, made his most important contribution to the Stamford Bridge outfit after standing down as a director.
The club, and the freehold for the lucrative site where they play home games, changed hands and many shares were bought by property developers whose plans threatened Chelsea's existence, the club added in their statement.
Attenborough, however, kept hold of his shares and it eventually helped the club take back control of the freehold.
Ken Bates, the then-chairman, responded by appointing him life vice-president.
Attenborough became Chelsea's life president in 2008 and was handed a commemorative plate to mark the occasion.
"I'll sweep the Oscars off the mantelpiece and put this plate right on top now," he said. "It means as much to me as any award or honour I have been given."
(Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by John O'Brien)