Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd died "peacefully at his home" on Monday, his family have confirmed.
Born in 1941, Shepherd, along with John Hall, helped the north-east club secure Premier League status in 1993 and was pivotal in attracting Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer to join during his time at St James' Park.
The businessman - who was awarded the freedom of the city of Newcastle earlier this year - sold his share of the club to Mike Ashley in 2007 after a 10-year stint as chairman.
"Freddy Shepherd, former chairman of Newcastle United and chairman of Shepherd Offshore Group and Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group, sadly passed away peacefully at his home last night," the family announced in a statement.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of former Newcastle United chairman, Freddy Shepherd. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/aC1tFV1H5p— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) September 26, 2017
"At this difficult time the family have asked that their privacy be respected and all media enquiries should be directed to Mark Whittle of Triple S Communications."
Shearer led the tributes to his "great friend" on social media, thanking Shepherd for bringing him back to his home city in 1996 for a world-record fee of £15million.
So sad to hear my great friend and former @NUFC chairman Freddy Shepherd has passed away. I owe him a huge debt for bringing me home. RIP— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) September 26, 2017
Terrible news that Freddie Shepard has passed away, we had so many great memories at the toon @NUFC thoughts & prayers to all his family— Shay Given (@No1shaygiven) September 26, 2017
Long-serving goalkeeper Shay Given also paid tribute to a man he spent many happy years working alongside.