Peter Corrigan, left, began his career making the tea at the Western Mail and rose to become sports editor of The Observer and the chief sports columnist for the Independent on Sunday.
He was among the journalists to cover the 1966 World Cup Final and later ghost-wrote the autobiography of one of England’s winning XI, Martin Peters, as well as that of Welsh rugby legend Jonathan Davies.
Peter, who had been suffering with cancer, passed away peacefully in his sleep last week surrounded by his family.
At the age of 16, he became a messenger boy at the Western Mail & Echo in Cardiff, making tea for sub-editors and, in those days of hot metal, running copy between editorial departments and composing floors.
A year later he was taken on by the Echo as a trainee reporter and soon sent to the Newport office, from where he covered Newport County.
He was soon back at head office as Cardiff City reporter at a time when the club was in the old First Division and sales of the Saturday night Football Echo were soaring.
When City started to plummet towards the relegation zone one season, the Echo’s editor Geoff Rich summoned Peter to his office, demanding: ‘What are you going to do about it?’
He made the move to the nationals in the 1960s as football writer for the Daily Herald before returning to Wales at the start of the 1970s to work in PR.
But he was soon lured back to print, and in 1973 he joined The Observer as chief football correspondent, stepping up to sports editor seven years later.
In this role he interviewed the Queen’s then son-in-law Captain Mark Phillips at Buckingham Palace for a job as equestrian correspondent – but turned him down.
Simon Kelner, the future Independent editor who was one of Peter’s deputies at the Observer said: “The world has lost a great man. Peter Corrigan, my friend, my mentor, died last night. He truly had bags of swank.”
Ian Prior, the Guardian and Observer’s current head of sport, tweeted: “RIP Peter Corrigan, former Observer sports ed. A wonderful writer, editor, and mentor to generations of journalists.”
Peter is survived by his daughter Sally-Anne and son James, who is golf correspondent of the Daily Telegraph.