IT was about ten years ago that I first met my good friend Leon Crouch.

I was called in by an administrator to talk about the financial problems at Southampton FC at the time.

There was a group of four of us - Leon, Patrick Trant, who has a big engineering company based in Totton, legendary fundraiser Mike Osman and myself - who the administrator knew to be big supporters of the club.

Whilst I had met him before, neither one of us knew Leon.

He was based in Lymington and also had an engineering company amongst others. We all got on very well immediately.

The administrator said ‘I’m putting all the cards on the table. There are lots of bills to be paid and if they are not paid the club may not see out the season.’

Leon wrote it all off out of his own pocket. He and Patrick agreed to join the board of directors to get the club back on a proper level.

Once the job was done they came away and of course since then the club was taken over successfully by the Liebherr family.

Leon was a great lover of football. He was a quiet man who worked his way up from a working-class background to be one of the most successful businessmen in the region.

He also helped out many charities and local football clubs and never wanted any publicity.

He usually helped charities on the condition they didn’t tell anybody. He was the sort of person you could always rely on.

Some supporters may remember that when the original statue of our legend Ted Bates was proved to be nothing like him, Leon paid for the replacement that will be there forever.

Leon’s generosity showed how much he loved the club.

All its supporters should realise what he did. Who knows where the club would be now without him.

When I remember the things he did to save the football club I would think a statue of him next to Ted would be more than acceptable.

For many years now I’ve had the pleasure of being with Patrick and Leon at Southampton’s home games. He totally loved going to the games and his wit helped make those days enjoyable, no matter how the game itself was going.

One of Leon’s companies was called Sea Talk Systems, which he used to enjoy abbreviating to STS after his favourite football club.

He will be sorely missed, not just by his family but by close friends like Patrick and myself.

Once away from the match he would be a very private person who loved his family and continued to help out charities, particularly in the Lymington area where he lived.

I’d known Leon was extremely ill for a while, before he passed away on the morning of Friday the 13th.

He always looked very fit, he did fitness training in his own quiet way and although he had his 70th birthday recently he looked much younger.

So the news of his illness came as a massive shock.

He spent the last few days in a hospice and unfortunately his family were told the end had more or less come.

But he wouldn’t go easily, which was typical Leon. He survived a week longer than the doctors thought. Leon might have been quiet on the outside but he was a fighter and a battler, qualities which got him right up the ladder in the business world to the benefit of Southampton FC.

RIP Leon.