William John Charles, CBE (27 December 1931 – 21 February 2004) was a Welsh international footballer who played for Leeds United and Juventus. Rated by many as the greatest all-round footballer ever to come from Britain, he was equally adept at centre-forward or centre-back. Due to his height, physique, and strength, he excelled in the air, although he was also a prolific goalscorer with his feet, due to his powerful and accurate shot. Despite his size, he was also a fast player, who was gifted with good technical ability and passing ability, which allowed him both to score and create goals. He has since been included in the Football League 100 Legends and was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.
He was never cautioned or sent off during his entire career, due to his philosophy of never kicking or intentionally hurting opposing players. Standing at 6 feet 2 inches, he was nicknamed Il Gigante Buono – The Gentle Giant.
His brother, Mel Charles and nephew Jeremy Charles, also represented Wales. His grandson, Jake Charles, currently plays for Huddersfield Town, and has represented Wales at youth level.
By Dean Hanley
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