Ian Hamilton, a former professional footballer described by some as the best schoolboy player to ever have come out of Stevenage, has died.

The 55-year-old played for numerous clubs but is most fondly remembered by West Bromwich Albion supporters, having been the first signing of Ossie Ardiles' reign at The Hawthorns.

Hamilton, lived his early years in Trafford Close and went first to Moss Bury Primary School before heading to Barclay School.

He first went to Southampton but after failing to make the grade at The Dell, he headed closer to home, playing for Cambridge United.

A move to Scunthorpe United followed before the Tottenham Hotspur legend swooped shortly after taking over at the Baggies in 1992, buying him for a fee of £150,000.

He was a hit in the Black Country too, playing every match that season as West Brom were promoted to the old Division One via the play-offs, even scoring in the semi-final second leg against Swansea City.

In total he made 282 appearances in all competitions over six seasons, scoring 28 times, before moving on to Sheffield United in March 1998.

Further spells followed at Grimsby Town, Notts County and Woking before retiring from the game.

His former boss led the tributes.

Speaking on Twitter, Ardiles said: "Ian Hamilton was the first player I bought on the recommendation of Keith Burkinshaw, without see him play.

"What a success he was, one of our most important players that season and a great guy to have around.

"Will miss you Hammy. My prayers and thoughts are with your family and friends."

Another was Francis Benali.

He said: "I'm shocked and saddened to hear the passing of Ian Hamilton, a fellow Southampton apprentice.

"RIP Hammy."

The West Bromwich Albion former players' association revealed that Hamilton took ill late last year.

He leaves two children, Rhianna and Luca as well as a granddaughter.