HARRY Redknapp has led the tributes to former Cherries defender Roger Brown, who passed away on Wednesday, aged 58.

A towering central defender, he made 177 appearances and scored nine goals during two spells at Dean Court after being recommended to Cherries by Redknapp.

Brown skippered the club to Football League Trophy glory in 1984 and was stand-in captain when Redknapp’s men famously toppled Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup.

Speaking to the Daily Echo ahead of Tottenham’s Europa League qualifier against Hearts last night, Redknapp said: “I first met Roger when we played together at Leamington after I had come back from America. John Benson was the manager at Bournemouth and I told him Roger would walk the league. Benno watched him and signed him.

“He was a proper centre-half. He used to dominate and win every header. He was a rock. He was a good character and a great leader. I was very sorry to hear of his passing.”

Brown, who was 25 when he broke into the pro ranks, joined Cherries for £10,000 in February 1978 and his wholehearted displays made him a firm favourite on the terraces. He followed John Bond to First Division Norwich for £85,000 in July 1979 before being sold to Fulham for £100,000 just eight months later.

And after helping the Cottagers to promotion alongside Gerry Peyton and Sean O’Driscoll in 1982, Brown returned to Dean Court for a second spell in December 1983.

Just weeks later, Brown and his team-mates hit the headlines when they pulled off one of the greatest shocks in FA Cup history by dumping out holders Manchester United. At the time, Cherries were struggling in the lower reaches of the third flight and rookie manager Redknapp turned to Brown to lead them against Ron Atkinson’s stars after captain John Beck had gone down with flu.

Ian Thompson, one of Cherries’ goalscorers in a 2-0 win and now headmaster at Bishopston School in Swansea, told the Daily Echo: “Roger was a real tower of strength in terms of keeping going Harry’s beliefs about us being able to beat them. He was a great pro and brought a wealth of knowledge to the dressing room.

“My lasting memory of Roger is not from the United game. The week after, we went to Preston and played poorly in a 2-0 defeat. He had a sense of realism about the whole thing and kept our feet on the ground. We had gone from being on top of the world to down in the dumps but Roger always kept a level head.

“He was a really professional person. He would make sure you enjoyed the moments but didn’t get carried away and lived through the times that weren’t so good. He was a great guy to be with and a steadying influence to us.”

Brown played an outstanding role alongside central defensive partner Phil Brignull and full-backs Chris Sulley and Everald La Ronde as Cherries kept at bay the United big guns.

Brignull told the Echo: “Roger was a quiet man in many ways but always commanded respect just through being there. He didn’t need to shout and holler. After we had beaten United, he just came into the dressing room and sat there. He was smashing guy and his untimely passing is terrible news.”

Sulley said: “He was a leader and there were no airs and graces. Everyone pulled together against United and it was one of those days. His passing comes as a great shock and condolences go out to his family.”