Stuart Metcalfe, promotion winner and Rovers stalwart of over 400 games, has died, aged 69.

From making his Rovers debut in 1960 against Cardiff City at just 17, the former England youth international went on to make 451 appearances for the club first as a winger and then as a creative playmaker in the centre of midfield.

Blackburn born, experienced the highs of promotion and the lows of relegation, while will always be remembered for scoring Rovers’ 5000th goal in a 4-0 win over Fulham in 1978.

His long association with the club started at the age of 10, and after his playing days, remained part of the town’s community with his home in Mill Hill and having worked as a nurse at Calderstones for over 20 years.

He was also part of the commentary team during Rovers’ Worthington Cup final win over Tottenham at the Millennium Stadium in 2002, having had a spell working for Radio Rovers on matchdays.

A club spokesman added: “The thoughts of everyone at Blackburn Rovers are with Stuart Metcalfe’s family and friends at this sad time.”

Recalling his breakthrough at Rovers in an interview with the Lancashire Telegraph in 2011, he said: “I started at Blackburn when I was 10.

“We used to train Tuesday and Thursday nights at Darwen. We used to meet at Ewood and run up to Darwen.

“I remember being a ball boy in those days. We used to go behind the goal at training, on little Wembley next to Ewood, and the ball used to go in the river and we would have to go after it.

“After two years they asked me to turn professional at 17.

“When they got relegated they lost all their best players and maybe that did give me my chance.

“When they sold Mike Ferguson to Aston Villa, Jack Marshall said to me ‘you are playing on Saturday’. It was out of the blue. He gave me my chance at 17 and that was it.

“In those days you used to get your chance. I have to admit I wouldn’t like being a youngster these days. It is so difficult to make it.

“I loved my time at Rovers. We had a fantastic team under Gordon Lee. We had good gates and went on win the Division Three Championship in 1975.

“We were a yo-yo club because we didn’t have enough money to stay in the second division.

“We were buying old players, I don’t know how many centre forwards we had but they were knackered when they came in.

“They were not fit, they couldn’t run. But I still loved every minute.”

Aged 17 when he made his senior debut, former England youth international Metcalfe started out as a jinking winger but under boss Eddie Quigley, was handed a more central role where he struck up an excellent understanding with Tony Parkes.

 A slightly figure when starting out, Metcalfe had to deal with the physicality of the third tier after relegation but his ability to making surging runs from midfield, and pass with pinpoint accuracy, married well with Parkes' industry as Rovers won Division Three in 1974/75.

He was awarded a testimonial in 1978, but Howard Kendall’s appointment as player manager at Rovers in 1979 was the start of the end for Metcalfe as he first moved to Carlisle United in 1980 and then on to America.

He was back at Rovers two years later, signing non-contract forms as partner in crime from his playing days, Parkes, was in caretaker charge.

His only start came at Newcastle United and, after scoring an own goal in a 3-2 defeat, went on to have spells with Chorley, Rossendale United and Feniscowles, where he had a spell as manager.

Blackburn Rovers Former Players Association tweeted: “It’s with sad news that former player Stuart Metcalfe, who was a great servant to the Rovers making 386 appearances scoring 21 goals between 1967 and 1980 and also a regular at Rovers matches, has passed away. We at @BRFPA pass our condolences to his family.”