FORMER football correspondent David Lacey has died at the age of 83.

The Lewes-born journalist wrote his first match report for the Guardian in November 1964 and went on to cover ten football World Cups.

David retired as a football correspondent after 30 years in 2002, but continued writing about football until 2013.

He was born in 1938. His father was the editor of a newspaper and after national service in the RAF, David followed him into journalism, joining the Evening Argus, where he cut his teeth in football reporting covering Brighton.

From there, he joined the Guardian’s sports desk as a sub-editor.

He covered his first World Cup in England in 1966 and after Pelé retired from international football in 1971, he hailed him as being “to Brazilian football what Bradman was to Australian cricket”.

The Azteca in Mexico City was reportedly his favourite stadium. It was there he witnessed two of the highlights of his career - Italy’s famous 4-3 victory in the 1970 World Cup semi-final and England crash out of the 1986 World Cup to Argentina.

He began his report of the latter match with: “The sorcery, not to mention the sauce of Diego Maradona, ended England’s World Cup hopes last night.”

The Argus: Diego Maradona scoring against England with his hand at the 1986 World Cup Diego Maradona scoring against England with his hand at the 1986 World Cup

David went on to be named sports reporter of the year in 1997 and 2002.

He died at a care home in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, on Monday, November 15.

His brother Roger told the Guardian: “After he retired from the Guardian, David moved to the Cambridgeshire countryside, where he very much enjoyed the company of his family.

“In later years, he went into care and while his memory may have faded he could usually be relied on to recall his first visit to Wembley for the Matthews Cup Final, Pak Doo-ik’s famous goal as North Korea beat Italy in the 1966 World Cup or the time he crossed swords with Mrs Thatcher during a Downing Street reception.”

The former England international Gary Lineker tweeted: “Saddened to hear that David Lacey has died. An outstanding football writer whose match reports were so frequently a thing of beauty. A lovely man has left us. RIP David.”

Brighton resident and former chief sportswriter for the Guardian and Telegraph Paul Hayward said “you felt proud to share a page with him”.

Journalist Michael Calvin described David as “a gentle man, with a quietly wicked sense of humour. A brilliant match reporter, observant and insightful.”

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of Guardian News and Media, said: “David was one of the giants of Guardian journalism, an outstanding journalist whose economy of writing and stylish wit lit up our pages for 50 years, including 30 as football correspondent.

“In a career that encompassed thousands of games – including ten World Cups – he showed time and again he was a great match reporter. As Frank Keating wrote on David’s retirement in 2002, he may well have been ‘the best football writer in the English language there has ever been’. He was liked and admired by readers, colleagues and people across football and his influence on our coverage resonates to this day.”