Former Liverpool forward St John dies aged 82

FILE PHOTO: Football - Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays Premier League - Anfield - 13/14 - 30/3/14 Former Liverpool player Ian St John (L) with comedian Jimmy Tarbuck Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Jason Cairnduff Livepic

(Reuters) - Former Liverpool and Scotland striker Ian St John, who followed a stellar career on the pitch by becoming a hugely popular and successful TV presenter, has died aged 82 after a long illness, the Premier League champions said on Tuesday.

St John was one of Liverpool's leading players of the 1960's and later went on to become a popular presenter of "Saint and Greavsie", a lunchtime football show with former England striker Jimmy Greaves.

The Scot was a key part of the Liverpool team managed by Bill Shankly, earning promotion to the top flight in his debut season after joining for a then club-record fee of 37,500 pounds ($52,000) from Motherwell.

St John, who scored 118 goals in more than 400 games for Liverpool from 1961-71, passed away on Monday evening.

"It is with a heavy heart that we have to inform you that after a long illness we have lost a husband, father and grandfather," St John's family said in a statement

"He passed away peacefully with his family at his bedside."

St John's most famous goal was the extra-time winner in Liverpool's 2-1 win over Leeds United in the 1965 FA Cup final, a diving header which secured the club's maiden Cup triumph in an era when that competition enjoyed huge status.

He was also part of the team which won the league title the previous year, Liverpool's first since 1947, and again in 1966.

St John epitomised Shankly's team, combining skilful and clear play with a combative approach to the game.

"Clever, canny, bags of skill, made things happen. Liked a scrap too. Jesus, did he like a scrap," Shankly once said.

St John made 21 appearances for Scotland, scoring nine goals, one of them coming in the famous 6-2 win against Spain in Madrid in 1963.

Liverpool and Scotland defender Andy Robertson paid tribute to St John on Twitter "A man of warmth, humour, knowledge, wisdom and joy. Scotland and Liverpool has lost a true giant."

After retiring from playing, St John managed Motherwell and Portsmouth before his move into television -- his show with Greaves, a light-hearted preview of the weekend action which ran from 1985-1992.

"We were just two old players, playing off the cuff," St John said of the programme.

"There was an idea we would bounce off each other well. It became a national programme that people talked about and won an award," he added.

"One of the players along with Bill Shankly who made this club what it is today," former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher tweeted on Tuesday.

"I'll remember him most on the best football show on tv, The Saint & Greavsie."

($1 = 0.7211 pounds)

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru and Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)

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