Former West Bromwich Albion midfielder Ian Hamilton has died at the age of 55.
Stevenage-born Hamilton, who began his career on Southampton’s books, played for Cambridge United and Scunthorpe United before joining the Baggies for £150,000 in 1992.
He was the first Albion signing made by Ossie Ardiles after he took over that summer.
He played in every match that season to help the club win promotion via the Division Two play-offs, scoring the key goal in the semi-final second leg comeback win against Swansea City.
Hamilton went on to make a total of 282 appearances in all competitions over six seasons, scoring 28 times, before moving on to sign for Steve Thompson at Sheffield United for £325,000 in March 1998.
He also played league football for Grimsby Town (on loan), Notts County and Lincoln City before finishing his playing career at non-league Woking in 2003, after which he became a business development manager in IT.
The first Albion player signed by Ossie Ardiles
“Ian Hamilton was the first player I bought,” said Ardiles on Twitter. “On the recommendation of Keith Burkinshaw, without seeing him play.
“What a success he was. One of our most important players in this season. A great guy to have around.
“Will miss you Hammy. My prayers and thoughts with your family and friends.”
Former Baggies team-mate Kevin Donovan also said on Twitter: “This one hurts like no other. RIP my best pal Hammy.
“One of the best. I’ve met so many great people in football who I class as my friends but this man meant a lot more to me.
“I’m gonna miss you my friend but so glad I got a final few minutes with you.”
The West Bromwich Albion former players’ association revealed that Hamilton was first taken ill last year.
Albion will pay tribute with a minute’s applause prior to kick-off in their next home fixture – against Millwall on Saturday 23 September.