TOP Premiership manager Stuart Pearce today paid a glowing tribute to a Newport man rated one of Manchester City's best players.

Pearce, who has managed City for just over a year, said the death of Roy Clarke (pictured) was a "sad loss".

The 80-year-old FA Cup winner, who died on Monday after suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, made 369 appearances for the club in the late 1940s and 1950s, scoring 79 times.

He was inducted into the City Hall of Fame in January 2004 and was capped 22 times by Wales.

"Roy and his wife were great servants of this club," said Pearce. "Roy was hugely respected and well loved by everybody."

As a mark of respect, a minute's applause was held before the FA Cup fifth round replay against Aston Villa yesterday.

Born in Newport on June 1, 1925, Mr Clarke grew up in Henry Street (no longer standing), near Shaftesbury Park, attending Crindau School and Brynglas Central School.

He played football for the first Air Training Corps and local club Albion Rovers before, in 1942, joining Cardiff City from whom City snapped him up for £12,000 in season 1946-47.

His wife Kathleen, formerly of Pontypool, who moved to Manchester with her husband, said: "He was a wonderful man who loved football and Manchester City. Everybody loved him and we had some wonderful memories together."

Mrs Clarke, who was married for 59 years, described how the FA Cup spent the night under their bed after the club's famous victory in 1956 and how they stashed it in an old toilet after another victory in 1969.

"We were left with it at the end of the evening in 1956," she said. "We put it in the boot of the car, took it home and then stuck it under our bed until Roy took it to the club the next morning.

"We didn't get a wink of sleep because we thought someone might break in and steal it. "When we won it in the 1960s, Roy was social club manager. We put it in the toilet to keep it safe. That cup has been in some strange places."

Life-long friend Bernard Evans, 80, of Tudor Road, Newport, who played football with Roy Clarke at Brynglas, said he had been proud to watch his friend on the football pitch.

"He was a very talented footballer and I used to watch him play for City and for Wales," he said. "You realised how good he was when you saw the way he hit the ball- it was magnificent."

Mr Clarke scored for City in the 1955 FA Cup semi-final against Sunderland but injury prevented him playing in the final, which they lost to Newcastle.

But the following year City were back at Wembley and he played in the side that beat Birmingham 3-1 in a final made famous by City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann playing on despite breaking his neck.

Mr Clarke, whose brother Billy played football for Ipswich, also achieved what is believed to be a unique recor, playing three consecutive games in three different divisions, the last but one game of the 1946-47 season in Division Three for Cardiff, the final game of that season for promoted Manchester City and the first game of season 1947-48 for City in Division One.

Until leaving the club in 1958, the outside left played alongside other City greats such as Don Revie and Roy Paul.

He made his Wales debut in a World Cup qualifier against England in 1949 (Wales lost 1-0) but missed the 1958 World Cup finals for his country because of injury.

At the end of his footballing career he coached Stockport County and managed Northwich Victoria but returned to Maine Road in 1966 to manage the Social Club for 22 years.

Mr Clarke, who received a lifetime achievement award from the club, helped form City's Development Association and Junior Blues.

The funeral of Mr Clarke, who had three daughters and six grandchildren, will be held in Manchester on Friday, March 24.