Saints have lost one of their greatest ever centre forwards, according to Ron Davies’ former teammate and fellow club legend Terry Paine.

The duo were part of a devastating combination in attack, with flying winger Paine and his partner on the opposite flank, John Sydenham, providing much of the ammunition for lethal front man Davies.

“We have lost one of Southampton’s greatest ever centre forwards,” said a devastated Paine on hearing of Davies’ death.

“It was an absolute pleasure to play with him. You knew if you knocked the ball into the area that big Ron was going to be on the end of it.

“He could head the ball harder than he could kick the ball. He is the best I have ever seen, and the best I have ever played with, in the air.

“People talk about me making Ron look good, but let me tell you he made me look good.”

Paine, Saints’ honorary president, still recalls with amazement the scoring feats of Davies during his time at the club.

“He was really responsible for saving us in that first year back in the First Division (1966/67), when he scored 37 (league) goals.

“I think he beat Geoff Hurst that year when he topped the list.

“That was the strength of his goalscoring ability, that he could outscore someone of that stature.”

Davies was so prolific in attack that Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby once described as the finest centre forward in all of Europe.

“We had the best of him, we really did,” said Paine. “I know for a fact that Matt Busby had been trying to sign him for a number of years, but Ted (Bates) had refused to let him go.

“Probably the four goals he scored at Manchester United, when we won 4-1 (in 1969), would be as big a highlight in his career as leading the scoring charts in the First Division.”

Paine added that Davies could be as charming off the field as he could be effective on it.

“He was a lovely, lovely man, a great guy and a great trainer,” he said.

“He had a tremendous physique. I had him at times jumping for bets at the golf club, at Stoneham, to see how high he could jump. He could jump higher than the clock there.

“It just seemed as if he hung there in the air. What it was down to was his timing, which was absolutely perfect.”