Warm tributes have been paid to a former professional footballer, who went on to lead his hometown club to a period of huge success.

Family, friends and the footballing community have honoured the achievements of "true gentleman" Roger Carter, who died earlier this month aged 86.

Eastern Daily Press: Gorleston FC - with manager, Roger Carter, on top left (standing). Picture: Sammy MorganGorleston FC - with manager, Roger Carter, on top left (standing). Picture: Sammy Morgan (Image: Sammy Morgan)

A former player, manager and chairman of Gorleston FC, Mr Carter has been hailed as "instrumental" for his involvement in leading the Greens to glory as the east coast club became one of the top teams in East Anglia in the 1960s and 1970s.

Eastern Daily Press: Former Norwich City Football Academy Director Sammy Morgan in 2002. Picture: NewsquestFormer Norwich City Football Academy Director Sammy Morgan in 2002. Picture: Newsquest

He was also pivotal in helping centre forward Sammy Morgan go on to become a professional with Port Vale, Aston Villa, Brighton and Cambridge United while fulfilling his dream of playing for Northern Ireland.

Born in October 1937 in Great Yarmouth, Mr Carter was first spotted impressing on the football pitch at the Technical High School he attended as he showed "great promise" and would represent Great Yarmouth Schoolboys.

Mr Carter first played wing half for Gorleston as a 16-year-old in 1954, before his talent captured the attentions of First Division club Aston Villa.

He was signed by The Villians in December 1955, and despite failing to make a first team appearance he regularly played for four seasons in the reserves which was "a very good standard" back then.

After meeting his future wife Jean, who moved to Great Yarmouth from Nottingham when she was seven, the couple were married in 1958 at St Peters Church in Great Yarmouth.

They went on to have two children Russell and Julie.

After joining Chelmsford City in the summer of 1960, before Mr Carter had even played for the Essex side, he was signed by Torquay United - with both Villa and Chelmsford receiving a fee.

He made five appearances for Torquay in the Football League in 1960-61, before dropping back into non-league football and playing for Bath City, Hastings United and Cambridge City before signing for Ashford Town in 1965.

At Ashford, Mr Carter impressed as an inside forward hitting 23 goals in all competitions in 63 appearances.

He would then return to former club Gorleston initially as player-manager, as he managed the club from 1967 to 1975.

Bustling centre forward Sammy Morgan, who had moved to Gorleston from Belfast before he was a teenager, would go on to represented Gorleston and Norfolk Schools and play as an amateur with Gorleston FC.

Paying tribute to Mr Carter, Mr Morgan recalled: "He brought great success to the club in the late sixties and early seventies - turning Gorleston from an ordinary Anglian Combination side into one of the top teams in East Anglia.

"This was a great achievement considering the financial constraints on the club."

With a "trademark" style of "all out attacking play," Mr Morgan said: "Roger took great pride that all lads lived within a 15-mile radius of the club."

His first season in 1967/8 was the Greens best since their return to amateur status some eight years earlier.

Mr Carter then led the club to a double - winning the Anglian Combination Premier League championship and Norfolk Senior Cup in the 1968/69 season, with only three defeats in what was a record breaking campaign as the Norfolk Senior Cup returned to Gorleston for the first time since the 1950s.

The club then moved up the pyramid to the Eastern Counties League but still remained amateur as they finished fourth in 1969/70 and 1970/71.

After turning semi professional in the 1971/2 season, they would go on to finish third that campaign before crowned Eastern Counties League champions and also Norfolk Premier Cup winners in a trophy laden 1972/73 season.

'Hugely respected'

Mr Morgan - who left Gorleston and played in the English Football League aged 23 after signing for Fourth Division club Port Vale in January 1970 - gave his "personal thanks" to Mr Carter.

He said: "Roger was instrumental in getting me into the professional game at Port Vale as he recommended me to the then manager Gordon Lee, who was a former Aston Villa colleague.

"I loved my time under Roger and my playing days under him were the most enjoyable years of my footballing career even though I went on to play at a higher level.

"I treasure those days at Gorleston and the spirit and camaraderie we all shared at the 'Rec' - wonderful memories.

"I owe a huge amount to Roger for all his help, advice and encouragement - for without him I may never have achieved my dream of playing for Northern Ireland.

"On behalf of all the lads who played for him, and with him, may I say he was a true gentleman and was hugely respected by us all."

Club tributes

Mr Carter, who was also Gorleston FC chairman from around 1984 to 1989, was hailed by his hometown club.

Listing his many achievements, a statement on the Gorleston FC website said: "Gorleston FC are saddened to learn of the passing of former player, manager and chairman, Roger Carter.

"Roger was responsible for the design of the club badge, basing it on the original Torquay Utd badge.

"RIP Roger - our thoughts and condolences go to his family."

Having suffered with dementia, Mr Carter died on May 3 aged 86 at The Coachhouse, Hemsby.

His funeral service is being held at Gorleston Crematorium on June 7 at 10.45am, with a reception afterwards at Gorleston Conservative Club.