Saints legend Terry Paine has been appointed to the role of honorary president by the club.

The 73-year-old will take up the post on January 1, when he will receive the title from the family of Ted Bates in a ceremony before Saints take on Arsenal at St Mary's.

Paine, who made 815 appearances for the club and now lives in South Africa, will "act as an ambassador at home and abroad" according to the club.

The former number seven and 1966 World Cup winner, who writes a weekly column in the Sports Pink, said: “It is a great honour for me to be named honorary president of Southampton Football Club. 

“I’ve been bursting with pride since Nicola (Cortese) offered me the role. Everyone has been coming up to me asking if I’m ok because I have been bounding around with a permanent smile on my face for the past week.

“Having joined the club at 17 before going on to make over eight hundred appearances means I hold the club very close to my heart. To be able to come back to the club in this role is a nice way to finish off my Southampton career. It really feels like I am coming home.”

Saints chairman Nicola Cortese added on the club's website: “I can think of no one more deserving of this prestigious title than Terry Paine.

“Terry and I have remained in permanent contact since the takeover of the club in 2009 and he has always been very supportive of what we do here at Southampton.

“To me he is a real ‘Mr Southampton’ having dedicated many years of his life to our great club, so it is a pleasure to award him with the formal role his continued support deserves."