LEON Crouch, who has died at the age of 70, will always be remembered fondly by Saints fans for the key role he played in rescuing the club when it was at its lowest ebb.

A lifelong Saints fan, Mr Crouch paid more than £1.6m to purchase a significant stake in the club in 2006 and became acting chairman in March 2007 during a turbulent period at St Mary’s.

It was during this period that Mr Crouch ensured Ted Bates would be given the tribute he deserved.

When it came to replacing the original Ted Bates statue, not only did Mr Crouch pay the six-figure sum for it, he took charge of the whole process, finding and commissioning a second sculptor.

The end result stands today outside St Mary’s today and is indeed a fitting tribute.

Mr Crouch returned to the position of Saints chairman in December 2007, where he served until the end of the 2007/08 season.

Before his second spell as the club’s chairman, he was an integral figure in keeping SISU at bay, as one of the club’s three major shareholders, after the directors of Southampton Leisure Holdings, the club’s parent company, had voted in favour of a SISU takeover in October 2007.

It proved a sagacious judgement for which Saints fans should be forever thankful.

One only has to see what became of Coventry City, a club brought to its knees by SISU, to realise what might have been.

Mr Crouch was also happy to help fund loan players both during his time as a non-executive director and also when he was football board chairman.

But his love of the Saints was never in more evidence than in April 2009, when the club went into administration.

Having paid over the odds for a ten per cent shareholding in an effort to oust Rupert Lowe, he lost all of it when the unthinkable happened a decade ago.

It is a mark of the man that he responded by thinking of others.

“It’s sad for the shareholders and I’m one of them, but I’m not worried about the money I’ve lost – it’s the other fans, what about them? I didn’t buy my shares to make money.”

Indeed, Mr Crouch spent a vast amount more to ensure Southampton FC continued to be a going concern.

He wrote a cheque for £50,000 to cover costs on the day he was informed of the severity of its plight by the administrator.

But that was just the start.

He then dipped into his own pocket to pay much, much more in wages and bills while Saints were in administration during the bleak mid-summer of 2009, allowing the takeover by Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr to take place on that happy August day.

The rest is history.

So as well as being a self-made multi-millionaire, Mr Crouch was utterly selfless.

His passion for the Saints also saw him deliver impassioned speeches to Saints fans when the club was on its knees.

In his rallying call before Saints’ first game after administration, against Charlton Athletic on April 4 2009, he said: “This is the hour of need. This is a great club, we want the club here next year and it’s up to us all, as passionate supporters and fans. Let’s all do it.”

Later that month, he belied his quiet nature with another inspirational oration to the club's supporters.

“The money from financial donations is not disappearing into a bottomless pit – it is going towards ensuring that you and I still have a club to support,” he implored.

“It is more important than ever the fans turn up and show any potential buyer the passion we have for this great club.”

As former Daily Echo sports editor Simon Carter wrote in these pages in April 2009: “His actions should never be forgotten.”