Tributes have been paid "wonderful" Oldham man and former Chadderton FC footballer "taken way too early".

Brian Hilton died at the age of 66 as he walked to the shops on Sunday, October 15.

During the 1970s and 80s, Brian played for Chadderton FC as a striker, where he was a prolific goal scorer, with his brother Colin saying he would "score 40 goals a season".

Brian was born in Oldham and lived there his whole life, working in a bank for nearly 50 years, with his work seeing him travel across the world training people.

Meanwhile, the striker "just kept popping goals in for fun" in Chadderton colours, according to Colin, and was the top goal scorer in the Manchester Premier League during the 1978/79 season.

Colin said that Brian, who lived in Grotton at the time of his death, had only retired in May this year and was "fit as a fiddle" as a result of being a keen cyclist and runner, completing marathons in the past.

The Oldham Times: Brian donated plenty of money for charity and was fit as a fiddleBrian donated plenty of money for charity and was fit as a fiddle (Image: Paul Hilton)

He said that "people can't believe" Brian died at his age.

Colin added that his brother was "so loved" and that it has been "overwhelming" to know how many lives Brian influenced.

Brian's other brother, Paul, who played for Bury and West Ham United, said Brian would "be sorely missed".

John Cannon, who at one point worked alongside Brian at a branch of the Midland Bank in Castleton, Rochdale, said: "Brian was a wonderful character taken way too early."

Mr Cannon reminisced about stories of his time working with Brian, saying he would often run over to the bookmakers to stick a bet on for the pair and once hid two full meals and a couple of pints in a drawer when they heard bank inspectors were on their way.

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Dave Gregory, who described Brian as a "dear friend", recalled him scoring both goals for Chadderton in a 2-1 win over Shifnal Town in a preliminary round of the FA Cup on September 6, 1984.

Mr Gregory said Brian was proud of how high he leapt to score one of the goals, which was captured on camera, with Brian later joking that he had in fact not used a trampoline to get up that high.

The Oldham Times: Brian Hilton scoring a goal in the FA Cup preliminary rounds in September 1984Brian Hilton scoring a goal in the FA Cup preliminary rounds in September 1984 (Image: Dave Gregory)

Mr Gregory said Brian had a "great sense of humour" and that he "loved football".

Former captain and assistant manager at Chadderton FC, Brian Davies, described Brian as a "real character, a smashing lad and a good teammate".

Colin said that since 1996, Brian had donated around £10,000 to Alzheimer's Society following the death of their father from the disease.

Brian was an obsessive Oldham Athletic supporter as well, holding a season ticket for many years, with his ticket now set to go towards allowing people in the community to attend Latics matches.

With Brian's funeral set to take place in the coming weeks, Colin said: "I'm grateful that so many people have come forward to give Brian a dignified sending off that he deserves."