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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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Former Newcastle chief executive dies

Former Newcastle United chief executive Freddie Fletcher has died at the age of 71 after losing his battle with cancer.

Considered by many to be the driving force behind the club's resurgence in the 1990s, Fletcher is also credited with persuading Kevin Keegan to take up the role of manager in 1992.

A club statement read: "Newcastle United were very saddened to hear the news of the death of former chief executive Freddie Fletcher after a brave fight against cancer.

"Freddie did great things for the club in the 1990s, especially in the early days of the Premier League, and helped re-establish the club in the top echelons of English football.

"He had great enthusiasm, knowledge and football expertise and he also played a key role in bringing the likes of Alan Shearer, David Ginola and Faustino Asprilla to the club. Our thoughts in this time of sorrow are with his family."

Upon hearing the news, former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd described Fletcher as "determined beyond belief" and praised his efforts in bringing Sir Bobby Robson to the club.

"He came from a working-class background near the Greenock shipyards and he was proud of that," Shepherd said. "He was determined beyond belief. You couldn't knock him down with a hammer.

"His nickname at the club was 'The Rottweiler' and he loved it. He wouldn't give up on anything. I worked with him every day for more than ten years and knew the character of the man inside-out."

Fletcher also played a key part in launching the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in 2008.

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