LONDON - Former Everton player and managerial great Howard Kendall has died at the age of 69, the Premier League club announced on Saturday.
Kendall played for Everton as a midfielder in the 1970s and had three spells as manager at Goodison Park, including a six-year stint in the 1980s that was the most successful period in the club's history.
"It is with great sadness that the club has learned of the passing of Howard Kendall," Everton announced on their website, without disclosing a cause of death.
"The most successful manager in the history of the club and one of the greatest players to pull on the Everton jersey. He passed away in hospital in Southport this morning at the age of 69, surrounded by loved ones.
"The thoughts of everyone associated with the club are with Howard's family at this difficult time and it would be appreciated if everyone could respect their request for privacy." Everton confirmed that they would observe a minute's silence prior to their Premier League home game against Manchester United later on Saturday, while their players will wear black armbands.
The flag at Liverpool Town Hall will also be lowered to half-mast.
Kendall joined Everton from Preston North End in March 1967 and contributed to their league title success in 1970 after being converted from a defender into a midfielder.
After subsequent stints with Birmingham City, Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers, where he worked as player-manager, he returned to Everton, briefly, in 1981, before going into management full-time.
In his first managerial spell at Everton, he led the team to two league titles, one FA Cup and the 1984-85 European Cup Winners' Cup, which was the club's first, and to date only, continental honour.
Later spells at Everton between 1990 and 1993 and 1997 and 1998 did not prove as successful and he left the club for the final time after they avoided relegation on the final day of the 1997-98 season.
Former Everton striker Gary Lineker led the tributes to Kendall, who also managed Athletic Bilbao, Manchester City, Greek clubs Xanthi and Ethnikos Piraeus, Notts County and Sheffield United.
"Saddened to hear that Howard Kendall has passed away," Lineker wrote on Twitter. "Brilliantly managed the best club side I ever played for at Everton. Great bloke." Neville Southall, goalkeeper of Kendall's great Everton team, tweeted: "A great manager, an even greater man. Whatever I did was solely down to him. Gentleman, friend, mentor. Will miss him. Gutted." Tributes also came in from across the Merseyside football divide, with Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish tweeting: "Very, very sad news about Howard Kendall. Total respect for him as a player, manager and person. Fantastic character. Be sadly missed. A legend." The English Football Association said on Twitter: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of former @Everton manager Howard Kendall, who has passed away aged 69."